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From  the  Rise  of  the  Kabbala  (1270  C.  E.)  to  the 

Permanent  Settlement  of  the  Marranos 

IN  Holland  (i6i3  C.  E.) 



The  Jewish  PxraLiCATioN  Society  of  America 


Copyright,  1894,  by 


All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  book  may  be 
reproduced  in  any  Jorm  without  permission  in 
writing  from  the  publisher:  except  by  a  reviewer 
who  may  quote  brief  passages  in  a  review  to  be 
printed  in  a  magazine  or  newspaper. 






Progress  of  the  Kabbala— Todros  Halevi  and  his  Sons- 
Isaac  Allatif  and  his  Kabbalistic  Doctrines — Adventurous 
Career  of  Abraham  Abulafia — He  assumes  the  Character 
of  Messiah — Opposition  of  Ben  Adret — The  Prophet  of 
Avila — Joseph  Jikatilla  and  his  Kabbalistic  Mazes — The 
Impostor  Moses  de  Leon — Forgeries  of  the  Kabbalists — 
Origin  of  the  Zohar — Its  Doctrines  and  Influence — 
Shem-Tob  Falaquera — Isaac  Albalag — Levi  of  Ville- 
franche — Samuel  Sulami  and  Meiri — Abba-Mari's  Exag- 
gerated Zeal — Jacob  ben  Machir  Profatius  and  the  Con- 
troversy regarding  the  Study  of  Science — Asheri — The 
Poet  Yedaya  Bedaresi page  i. 

1270 — 1328  C.E. 


Philip le  Bel — The  Jews  of  France  plundered  and  banished — 
Estori  Parchi  ;  Aaron  Cohen  ;  Laments  of  Bedaresi — 
Eleazar  of  Chinon,  the  Martyr — Return  of  the  Jews  to 
France  ;  their  Precarious  Position — Progress  of  the  Con- 
troversy regarding  the  Study  of  Philosophy — Abba-Mari 
and  Asheri — Death  of  Ben  Adret — Rabbinical  Revival 
in  Spain — Isaac  Israeli  II — Samuel  and  the  Queen  Maria 
Molina — Don  Juan  Emanuel  and  Judah  Ibn-Wakar — The 
Jews  of  Rome — Robert  of  Naples  and  the  Jews — Peril 
of  the  Jews  in  Rome — Kalonymos  ben  Kalonymos,  his 
Satires — Immanuel  and  Dante — The  Poet  Judah  Sici- 
liano — Leone  Romano  and  King  Robert — Shemarya 
Ikriti — Position  of  Karaism — Aaron  the  Elder  and  the 
Prayer-Book  of  the  Karaites       page  46. 

1306  —1328  C.E. 




Condition  of  Palestine — Pilgrims  and  Immigrants — Sham 
Tob  Ibn-Gaon — Favorable  Position  of  the  Jews  in  Cas- 
tile under  Alfonso  XI — Persecution  in  Navarre — Joseph 
de  Ecija  and  Samuel  Ibn-Wakar — Increase  of  Anti- 
Jewish  Feelings — Abner-Alfonso  of  Burgos,  Convert  to 
Christianity,  and  Persecutor  of  the  Jews — Gonzalo  Mar- 
tinez— Fall  of  Martinez  and  Deliverance  of  the  Jews — 
Decline  of  the  Study  of  Science — The  Study  of  the 
Talmud  prosecuted  with  Renewed  Vigor — Jacob  and 
Judah  Asheri — Isaac  Pulgar,  David  Ibn-Albilla — The 
Provencal  Philosophers  Ibn-Kaspi,  Leon  de  Bagnols,  and 
Vidal  Narboni — Decline  of  the  Study  of  the  Talmud  in 
Germany — Emperor  Louis  of  Bavaria  and  the  Jews  ■- 
Persecution  by  the  "  Leather- Arms  "  .    .    .    .    page  73. 

1328 — 1350  C.E. 


Rise  of  the  False  Accusation  against  Jews  of  Poisoning 
the  Wells — Massacres  in  Southern  France  and  Catalo- 
nia— The  Friendly  Bull  of  Pope  Clement  VI — Terrible 
Massacres  in  all  Parts  of  Germany — Confessions  wrung 
from  the  Jews  on  the  Rack — The  Flagellants  as  a  Scourge 
for  the  Jews — King  Casimirjof  Poland — Persecution  in 
Brussels — The  Black  Death  in  Spain — Don  Pedro  the 
Cruel  and  the  Jews — Santob  de  Carrion  and  Samuel 
Abulafia — Fall  of  Don  Pedro  and  its  Consequences  for 
the  Jews — Return  of  the  Jews  to  France  and  Germany 
— The  "  Golden  Bull " — Manessier  de  Vesoul — Mata- 
thiah  Meir  Halevi — Synod  at  Mayence      .     .    page  100. 

1348— 1380  C.E. 


The  Jews  of  Spain  after  the  Civil  War— Joseph  Pichon  and 
Samuel  Abrabanel — The  Apostates  :  John  of  Valladolid 
— Menachem  ben  Zerach,  Chasdai  Crescas,  and  Isaac 
ben  Sheshet — Chayim  Gallipapa  and  his  Innovations  — 
Prev6t  Aubriot    and  the  Jews  of   Paris — The   French 


Rabbinate — Reviv'al  of  Jewish  Influence  in  Spain — The 
Jews  of  Portugal— The  Jewish  Statesmen,  David  and 
Judah  Negro — Rabbis  and  Clergy — Persecutions  in  Ger- 
many and  Spain — The  First  Germs  of  the  Inquisition — 
Second  Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  France — The  Convert 
Pessach-Peter — Lipmann  of  Miihlhausen     .     .  page  136. 

1369 — 1380  C.E, 



The  Marranos — The  Satirists — Pero  Ferrus  of  Alcala, 
Diego  de  Valencia,  and  Villasandino — Astruc  Raimuch 
and  Solomon  Bonfed — Paul  de  Santa  Maria  and  his 
Zealous  Campaign  against  the  Jews — Joshua  Ibn- 
Vives — Profiat  Duran  (Efodi) — Meir  Alguades — The 
Philosophy  of  Crescas— Death  of  Henry  III  of  Castile 
and  Unfavorable  Change  in  the  Position  of  the  Jews — 
Messianic  Dreams  of  the  Kabbalists — Jews  seek  an 
Asylum  in  Northern  Africa — Simon  Duran — Geronimo 
de  Santa  Fe,  Vincent  Ferrer  and  Benedict  XIII — Anti- 
Jewish  Edict  of  Juan  II — Special  Jewish  Costume — 
Conversion  of  Jews  owing  to  Ferrer's  Violent  Efforts — 
Disputation  at  Tortosa — The  Jewish  Spokesmen  at  the 
Conference — Incidents  of  the  Meeting — Geronimo  insti- 
gates the  Publication  of  a  Bull  for  the  Burning  of  the 
Talmud — Pope  Martin  V  befriends  the  Jews  .  page  179. 

1391— 1420  C.E. 



The  Hussite  Heresy — Consequences  for  the  Jews  involved 
in  the  Struggle — Jacob  Molin— Abraham  Benveniste  and 
Joseph  Ibn-Shem  Tob  in  the  Service  of  the  Castilian 
Court — Isaac  Campanton,  the  Poet  Solomon  Dafiera — 
Moses  da  Rieti — Anti- Christian  Polemical  Literature — 
Chayim  Ibn-Musa — Simon  Duran  and  his  Son  Solomon — 
Joseph  Albo  as  a  Religious  Philosopher — Jewish  Philo- 
sophical Systems — Edict  of  the  Council  of  Basle  against 
the  Jews — Fanatical  Outbreaks  in  Majorca — Astruc 
Sibili  and  his  Conversion  to  Christianity  .    .    page  221. 

1420 — 1442  C.E. 




Pope  Eugenius  IV,  under  the  Influence  of  Alfonso  de 
Cartagena,  changes  his  Attitude  towards  the  Jews — His 
Bull  against  the  Spanish  and  Italian  Jews  in  1442 — Don 
Juan  II  defends  the  Jews — Pope  Nicholas  V's  Hostility — 
Louis  of  Bavaria — The  Philosopher  Nicholas  of  Cusa 
and  his  Relation  to  Judaism— John  of  Capistrano — His 
Influence  with  the  People  is  turned  against  the  Jews — 
Capistrano  in  Bavaria  and  Wiirzburg — Expulsion  of  the 
Breslau  Community — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Briinn 
and  Olmiitz — The  Jews  of  Poland  under  Casimir  IV — 
Capture  of  Constantinople  by  Mahomet  II — The  Jews 
find  an  Asylum  in  Turkey — The  Karaites — Moses  Kap- 
sali — Isaac  Zarfati — Position  of  the  Jews  of  Spain — 
Persecutions  directed  by  Alfonso  de  Spina — The  Condi- 
tion of  the  Marranos page  248. 

1442 — 1474  C.E. 


Position  of  the  Jews  of  Italy — The  Jewish  Bankers — Yechiel 
of  Pisa — His  Relations  with  Don  Isaac  Abrabanel — Jew- 
ish Physicians,  Guglielmo  di  Portaleone — Revival  of 
Learning  among  Italian  Jews — Messer  Leon  and  Elias 
del  Medigo — Pico  di  Mirandola,  the  Disciple  of  Medigo 
— Predilection  of  Christians  for  the  Kabbala — Jochanan 
Aleman — Religious  Views  of  Del  Medigo — German  Rab- 
bis immigrate  into  Italy — Joseph  Kolon,  his  Character 
and  his  Feud  with  Messer  Leon — Judah  Menz,  an  An- 
tagonist of  Del  Medigo — Bernardinus  of  Feltre — Jews 
banished  from  Trent  on  a  False  Charge  of  Child-Murder 
— The  Doge  of  Venice  and  Pope  Sixtus  IV  befriend  the 
Jews — Sufferings  of  the  Jews  of  Ratisbon— Israel  Bruna 
— Synod  at  Nuremberg— Emperor  Frederick  III, 

page  285 
1474 — 1492  C.E. 



Jewish  Blood  in  the  Veins  of  the  Spanish  Nobility — The 
Marranos  cling  to  Judaism  and  manifest  Unconquerable 


Antipathy  to  Christianity — Ferdinand  and  Isabella — 
The  Dominicans,  Alfonso  de  Ojeda,  Diego  de  Merlo,  and 
Pedro  de  Solis — The  Catechism  of  the  Marranos — A  Po- 
lemical Work  against  the  Catholic  Church  and  Despot- 
ism gives  a  Pov/erful  Impulse  to  the  Inquisition — The 
Tribunal  is  established  in  1480 — Miguel  Morillo  and  Juan 
de  San  Martin  are  the  first  Inquisitors — The  Inquisition 
in  Seville — The  "Edict  of  Grace" — The  Procession  and 
the  Auto-da-fe — The  Numbers  of  the  Accused  and  Con- 
demned— Pope  Sixtus  IV  and  his  Vacillating  Policy  with 
Regard  to  the  Inquisition — The  Inquisition  under  the 
first  Inquisitor  General,  Thomas  deTorquemeda;  its  Con- 
stitutions— The  Marranos  of  Aragon — They  are  charged 
with  the  Death  of  the  Inquisitor  Arbues — Persecutions 
and  Victims — Proceedings  against  two  Bishops  Favorable 
to  the  Jews,  De  Avila  and  De  Aranda       .    .   page  308. 

1474— 1483  C.E. 


Friendship  of  Marranos  and  Jews — Torquemada  demands 
of  the  Rabbis  of  Toledo  the  Denunciation  of  Marra- 
nos— Judah  Ibn-Verga — Jewish  Courtiers  under  Fer- 
dinand and  Isabella — Isaac  Abrabanel:  his  History 
and  Writings — The  Jews  of  Portugal  under  Alfonso  V — 
The  Ibn-Yachya  Brothers — Abrabanel's  Flight  from  Por- 
tugal to  Spain — The  Jews  of  Granada:  Isaac  Hamon — 
Edict  of  Banishment  promulgated  by  Ferdinand  and  Isa- 
bella— Its  Consequences — Departure  from  Spain — Num- 
ber of  the  Exiles — Decline  in  the  Prosperity  of  Spain 
after  the  Banishment  of  the  Jews — Transformation  of 
Synagogues  and  Schools  into  Churches  and  Monasteries 
— The  Inquisition  and  the  Marranos — Deza,  the  Succes- 
sor of  Torquemada page  334. 

1483— 1492  C.E. 


The  Exiles  from  Navarre — Migration  to  Naples — King 
Ferdinand  I  of  Naples  and  Abrabanel — Leon  Abrabanel 
— Misfortunes  of  the  Jews  in  Fez,  Genoa,  Rome,  and  the 
Islands  of  Greece — The  Sultan  Bajazet — Moses  Kapsali 
— Spanish  Jews  in  Portugal — The  Jewish  Astronomers, 


Abraham  Zacuto  and  Jose  Vecinho — ^The  Jewish  Trav- 
elers, Abraham  de  Beyaand  Joseph  Zapateiro — Outbreak 
of  the  Plague  among  the  Spanish  Jews  in  Portugal — Suf- 
ferings of  the  Portuguese  Exiles — Judah  Chayyat  and  his 
Fellow-Sufferers — Cruelty  of  Joao  II — Kindly  Treatment 
by  Manoel  changed  into  Cruelty  on  his  Marriage — Forc- 
ible Baptism  of  Jewish  Children  — Levi  ben  Chabib  and 
Isaac  Caro — Pope  Alexander  VI — Manoel's  Efforts  on 
Behalf  of  the  Portuguese  Marranos — Death  of  Simon 
Maimi  and  Abraham  Saba /^,^^357- 

1492 — 1498  C.E. 


Widespread  Consequences  of  the  Expulsion — The  Exiles — 
Fate  of  the  Abrabanel  Family — Leon  Medigo — Isaac 
Akrish — The  Pre-eminence  of  Jews  of  Spanish  Origin — 
The  North-African  States:  Samuel  Alvalensi,  Jacob 
Berab,  Simon  Duran  II — The  Jews  of  Algiers,  Tripoli 
and  Tunis — Abraham  Zacuto  and  Moses  Alashkar — 
Egypt :  Isaac  Shalal,  David  Ibn-Abi  Zimra — The  Jews 
of  Cairo — Selim  I — Cessation  of  the  Office  of  Nagid — 
Jerusalem — Obadyah  di  Bertinoro — Safet  and  Joseph 
Saragossi — The  Jews  of  Turkey — Constantinople — Elias 
Mizrachi:  the  Karaites — The  Communities  of  Salonica 
and  Adrianople — The  Jews  of  Greece — Elias  Kapsali — 
The  Jews  of  Italy  and  the  Popes  :  Bonet  de  Lates — The 
Ghetto  in  Venice — Samuel  Abrabanel  and  Benvenida 
Abrabanela — Abraham  Farissol — The  Jews  of  Germany 
and  their  Sorrows — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Various 
Towns — The  Jews  of  Bohemia — Jacob  Polak  and  his 
School — The  Jews  of  Poland page  382. 

1496— 1525  C.E. 


Antecedents  of  the  Convert  John  Pfefferkorn — Pfefferkom 
and  the  Dominicans  of  Cologne — Hoogstraten,  Ortuinus 
Gratius  and  Arnold  of  Tongern— Victor  von  Karben — 
Attacks  on  the  Talmud  and  Confiscation  of  Copies  in 
Frankfort — Reuchlin's  Hebrew  and  Kabbalistic  Studies 
— The  Controversy  concerning  the  Talmud — Activity  on 


both  Sides— Public  Excitement— Complete  Victory  of 
Reuchlin's  Efforts  in  Defense  of  Jewish  Literature- 
Ulrich  von  Hutten— Luther— Revival  of  Hebrew  Studies, 

page  422. 
15CX) — 1520  C.E. 



Internal  Condition  of  Judaism — Division  in  the  Communi- 
ties— The  Lack  of  Interest  in  Poetry — Historical  Studies 
— Leon  Medigo's  "  Dialogues  of  Love" — Supremacy  of 
the  Kabbala— Messianic  Hopes — The  Marranos  and  the 
Inquisition — Henrique  Nunes — The  Traveler  David  Reu- 
beni  in  Rome — Solomon  Molcho — His  Relations  with 
David  Reubeni — Joseph  Karo  and  his  "Maggid" — 
Clement  VII — Molcho  in  Ancona  and  Rome — His  Favor 
with  the  Cardinals — Death  of  Molcho — The  Enthusiastic 
Regard  in  which  he  was  held — Duarte  de  Paz— Paul  III 
— Charles  V  and  the  Jews — Emanuel  da  Costa, 

page  477. 
1500 — 1538  C.E. 



Efforts  towards  Unity — Jacob  Berab  proposes  the  Re-intro- 
duction of  Rabbinical  Ordination  into  Palestine — Suc- 
cessful Opposition  of  Levi  ben  Chabib — Joseph  Karo — 
His  Connection  with  Solomon  Molcho  and  his  Messianic 
Visions — Karo's  Religious  Code — Converts  to  Judaism  at 
the  Era  of  the  Reformation — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from 
Naples  and  Prague — Their  Return  to  the  latter  Town — 
Dr.  Eck — Martin  Luther  and  the  Jews — Moses  Hamon 
— Jewish  Histories  by  Joseph  Cohen,  the  Ibn-Vergas, 
and  Samuel  Usque — Elegy  of  Samuel  Usque — Reaction 
in  the  Catholic  Church ;  Loyola  establishes  the  Order 
of  Jesuits — The  Censorship  of  Books — Eliano  Romano 
and  Vittorio  Eliano — Fresh  Attacks  on  the  Talmud — 
Paul  IV  and  his  anti-Jewish  Bulls — Persecution  of  the 
Marranos  by  the  Inquisition  in  Ancona — Joseph  Nassi — 
The  Levantine  Jews — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Aus- 
tria and  Bohemia— Relations  of  Pope  Pius  IV  and  V  to 
the  Jews page  529. 

1538— 1566  CE. 




Joseph  Nassi's  Favorwith  Sultan  Solyman — His  Friendship 
for  Prince  Selim— Hostility  of  Venice  and  France  to 
Nassi — Joseph  Nassi  restores  Tiberias,  and  is  created 
Duke  of  Naxos — The  Vizir  Mahomet  Sokolli — The  Turks, 
at  the  Instigation  of  Nassi,  conquer  Cyprus — Rebellion 
against  Philip  II  in  the  Netherlands — Solomon  Ashkenazi 
— Election  of  Henry  of  Anjou  as  King  of  Poland — Ashke- 
nazi negotiates  a  Peace  between  Venice  and  Turkey — Ge- 
dalya  Ibn-Yachya  and  Jewish  Literature  in  Turkey — 
Joseph  Karo  compiles  the  "Shulchan  Aruch" — Azarya 
dei  Rossi — Isaac  Lurya — The  Jewish  "Dark  Age" — 
Spread  of  the  Kabbala — Lurya's  Disciple,  Chayim  Vital 
Calabrese — Death  of  Joseph  Nassi — Esther  Kiera  and  the 
Influence  of  Jewish  Women  in  Turkey     .    .    page  593. 

1566 — 1600  C.E. 


Condition  of  Poland — Favorable  Situation  of  the  Jews  in 
that  Country — Anti-Jewish  Party  in  Poland — The  Jewish 
Communities — Judaizing  Poles — Studies  of  the  Jews — 
The  Talmud  in  Poland — Solomon  Lurya — Moses  Isserles 
— The  Historian,  David  Gans — "Zemach  David" — Su- 
premacy of  the  Polish  Authorities  in  Rabbinical  Matters 
— The  Jewish  Seminaries  in  Poland — The  Disputations 
at  the  Fairs— Chiddushim  and  Chillukim — Stephen  Ba- 
thori — His  Kindness  towards  his  Jewish  Subjects — Sigis- 
mund  III — Restriction  on  the  Erection  of  Synagogues — 
Jewish  Synods — Vaad  Arba  Arazoth — Mordecai  Jafa — 
Christian  Sects  in  Poland — The  Socinians  or  Unitarians 
— Simon  Budny — The  Reformers  and  the  Jews — Isaac 
Troki — "The  Strengthening  of  Faith"      .    .    page  611. 

1566 — 1600  C.E. 


Revival  of  Catholicism — Decay  in  European  Culture — Ill- 
treatment  of  Jews  in  Berlin — Emperor  Rudolph  II  of 
Austria— Diminution  in  the  Numbers  of  Italian  Jews- 
Pope  Gregory  XIII — Confiscation  of  Copies  of  the  T^- 


mud — Vigorous  Attempts  at  the  Conversion  of  Jews — 
Pope  Sixtus  V — The  Jewish  Physician  David  de  Pomis 
— Renewal  of  Persecution  by  Clement  VIII — Expulsion 
from  Various  Italian  States — The  Censors  and  the  Tal- 
mud— The  Jews  at  Ferrara — Settlement  of  Jews  in  Hol- 
land—Samuel Pallache — Jacob  Tirado  and  the  Marranos 
in  Amsterdam — Tolerant  Treatment — The  Poet,  David 
Jesurun — Moses  Uri — Hebrew  Printing  in  Amsterdam, 

page  650. 
1593—1618  C.E. 



The  Amsterdam  Jewish  Community — Its  Wealth,  Culture, 
and  Honored  Position — Zacuto  Lusitano — Internal  Dis- 
sensions— The  Talmud  Torah  School — Saul  Morteira, 
Isaac  Aboab,  and  Manasseh  ben  Israel — The  Portuguese 
Congregation  in  Hamburg — The  First  Synagogue — 
Lutheran  Intolerance — John  Miller — Jewish  Colony  in 
Brazil — The  Chief  Communities  in  Germany — Persecu- 
tion in  Frankfort — Dr.  Chemnitz — The  Vienna  Congre- 
gation— T.iomann  Heller — Ferdinand  IPs  Zeal  for  the 
Conversion  ot  Jews— Influence  of  the  Thirty  Years' 
War  on  the  Fortunes  of  the  Jews      ....   page  676 

1618 — 1648  C.£. 


)  YHOl 





Progress  of  the  Kabbala — Todros  Halevi  and  his  Sons — Isaac  Allatif 
and  his  Kabbalistic  Doctrines — Adventurous  Career  of  Abraham 
Abulafia — He  assumes  the  Character  of  Messiah — Opposition  of 
Ben  Adret — The  Prophet  of  Avila — Joseph  Jikatilla  and  his 
Kabbalistic  Mazes — The  Impostor  Moses  de  Leon — Forgeries 
of  the  KabbaUsts — Origin  of  the  Zohar — Its  Doctrines  and 
Influence — Shem-Tob  Falaquera — Isaac  Albalag — Levi  of  Ville- 
franche — Samuel  Sulami  and  Meiri — Abba-Mari's  Elxaggerated 
Zeal — Jacob  ben  Machir  Profatius  and  the  Controversy  regard- 
ing the  Study  of  Science — Asheri — The  Poet  Yedaya  Bedaresi. 

1270 — 1328  c.E.  . 

The  secret  science  of  the  Kabbala,  which  hitherto 
had  assumed  a  modest  deportment  and  been  of  a 
harmless  character,  began  to  foment  discord  in  Ben 
Adret's  time,  ensnare  the  intelligence  and  lead 
astray  the  weak.  What  it  lacked  in  intrinsic  truth 
and  power  of  conviction,  it  endeavored  to  supply 
by  presumptuousness.  It  had  already  spread  from 
Gerona,  its  original  seat,  and  from  northern  Spain 
by  way  of  Segovia  to  southern  Spain,  as  far  as  the 
Castilian  capital,  Toledo,  the  Jewish  community  of 
which  had  before  strenuously  opposed  obscurantism. 
In  the  city  of  Toledo  the  Kabbala  won  thfe  adher- 
ence, among  others,  of  one  man  who,  by  his  noble 
birth,  his  princely  state,  his  high  position,  his  wealth 
and  learning,  gave  it  great  weight.  This  man,  whose 
influence  is  even  now  not  fully  recognized,  was 
Todros  ben  Joseph  Halevi,  of  the  noble  Toledan 
family  of  Abulafia  (born  1234,  died  after  1304).    He 

2  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

was  a  nephew  of  that  Meir  Abulafia  who  had  been 
so  obstinate  an  adversary  of  Maimuni  and  rational- 
istic thought.  Todros  Abulafia  took  as  a  model  his 
uncle,  who  in  his  old  age  had  laid  his  hands  on  his 
head,  and  blessed  him.  When  he  grew  up,  he  ap- 
plied himself  to  the  Talmud  and  to  secret  lore  ;  but 
he  must  have  been  a  man  of  affairs,  too,  for  he  ob- 
tained an  honorable  position  at  the  court  of  Sancho 
IV,  and  was  in  special  favor  with  the  wise  queen, 
Maria  de  Molina,  as  a  physician  and  financier.  By 
the  Jews  he  was  esteemed  and  venerated  as  their 
prince  (Nasi).  When  the  king  and  queen  of  Spain 
held  a  meeting  in  Bayonne  with  the  king  of  France, 
Philip  le  Bel,  to  settle  their  mutual  hostilities  (1290), 
Todros  Abulafia  was  in  the  train  of  the  former,  and 
received  the  most  flattering  homage  from  the  Jews 
of  southern  France.  Todros,  like  his  uncle,  was  a 
determined  opponent  of  philosophy  and  its  devo- 
tees. He  had  no  words  bitter  enough  against  the 
would-be  wise  people  who  hold  everything  which 
appears  incompatible  with  logic  as  incredible  and 
impossible.  Even  Maimuni,  whom  he  highly  re- 
spected, he  censured  for  undervaluing  the  impor- 
tance of  the  sacrifices  so  greatly  as  to  explain  them 
merely  as  a  concession  to  the  heathen  propensities 
of  the  people,  and  for  calling  the  offering  of  incense 
an  expedient  for  purifying  the  air.  He  waged 
vehement  warfare  against  the  philosophy  which 
denies  the  existence  of  evil  spirits,  which  to  him  was 
identical  with  doubting  the  existence  of  angels. 
Having  been  initiated  into  the  secret  science  by 
one  of  the  earliest  Kabbalists,  perhaps  by  Jacob  of 
Segovia,  who  formed  a  school  of  his  own,  Todros 
valued  it  as  divine  wisdom,  to  uncover  whose  veil 
to  laymen  was  fraught  with  danger.  The  recogni- 
tion of  the  secret  doctrine  by  a  person  of  so  high  a 
position  could  not  but  produce  some  effect.  His 
sons,  Levi  and  Joseph,  likewise  plunged  headlong 
into  its  study.     Two  of  the  four  Kabbalists  of  his 


time,  who  developed  the  Kabbala,  and  extended  its 
influence,  ranged  themselves  under  the  banner  of 
Todros  Abulafia,  and  dedicated  their  compositions 
to  him.     These   four   Kabbalists  of  the  first  rank, 
who  established  new  theories  with  more  or  less  suc- 
cess, were  Isaac  Ibn-Latif,  Abraham  Abulafia,  Joseph 
Jikatilla,  and  Moses  de  Leon,  all  Spaniards.     They 
obscured  the  mental  light,  with  which  men  of  intel- 
lect, from  Saadiah  to  Maimuni,  had  illumined  Judaism, 
and  substituted  for  a  refined  religious  belief,  fantastic 
and  even  blasphemous  chimeras.     The  intellectual 
degradation  of  the  Jews  in  the  following  centuries  is 
to  a  large  extent  their  work.     They  led  astray  both 
their  own  times  and  posterity  through  designed  or 
unintentional  imposition,  and  the  injuries  which  they 
inflicted  on  Judaism  are  felt  even  at  the  present  day. 
The  least  harmful  of  these  four  was    Isaac  ben 
Abraham  Ibn-Latif  or  Allatif  (born  about  1220,  died 
about  1290).     He  no  doubt  owed  his  origin  to  the 
south  of  Spain,  for  he  was  acquainted  with  Arabic. 
Nothing  is  known  of  his  history  beyond  the  fact  that 
he  was  on  friendly  terms  with  Todros  Abulafia,  to 
whom  he  dedicated  one  of  his  works.     His  writings, 
as  has  been  said  by  one  who  came  after  him,  seem 
to  "stand  with  one  foot  on  philosophy  and  with  the 
other  on  the  Kabbala."     But  Allatif  only  toyed  with 
philosophical  formulae,  their  meaning  does  not  seem 
to  have  become  known  to  him.     He   was  not  of  a 
thoughtful  nature,  and  did  not  enrich  the  Kabbala, 
although  he  attempted  to  give  himself  the  appear- 
ance of  following  original  methods,  and  avoided  the 
usual  Kabbalistic  expressions.     Allatif  started  with 
the  thought  that  a  philosophical  view  of  Judaism  was 
not  the  "right  road  to  the  sanctuary,"  and  that  it 
was,  therefore,  needful  to  seek  a  higher  conception, 
but,  instead  of  making  the  way  clear,  he  concealed 
it  by  empty  allusions  and  unmeaning  phrases.     Alla- 
tif laid  more  weight  than  his  predecessors  on  the 
close  connection  between  the  spiritual  and  the  mate- 

4  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  I. 

rial  world — between  God  and  His  creation.  For  the 
Godhead  is  in  all,  and  all  is  in  it.  In  soul-inspiring 
prayers  the  human  spirit  is  raised  to  the  world- 
spirit  (Sechel  ha-Poel), to  which  it  is  united  "in  a 
kiss,"  and,  so  influencing  the  Divinity,  it  draws  down 
blessings  on  the  sublunar  world.  But  not  every 
mortal  is  capable  of  such  spiritual  and  efficacious 
prayer;  therefore,  the  prophets,  the  most  perfect 
men,  were  obliged  to  pray  for  the  people,  for  they 
alone  knew  the  power  of  prayer.  The  unfolding 
and  revelation  of  the  Deity  in  the  world  of  spirits, 
spheres  and  bodies,  were  explained  by  Isaac  Allatif 
in  mathematical  formulae.  Isaac  Allatif  must,  how- 
ever, be  considered  a  clear  thinker,  when  compared 
with  his  enthusiastic  contemporary,  Abraham  Abu- 
lafia,  who  endeavored  to  establish  a  new  order  of 
things  by  Kabbalistic  sophisms. 

Abraham  ben  Samuel  Abulafia  (born  1240,  in 
Saragossa,  died  1291)  was  an  eccentric  personage, 
full  of  whims,  and  fond  of  adventures.  Endowed 
with  a  lively  mind  and  with  more  than  a  moderate 
amount  of  knowledge,  he  renounced  the  ways  of 
common  sense  to  throw  himself  into  the  arms  of 
enthusiasm.  His  whole  life  from  his  entry  into 
manhood  was  a  succession  of  adventures.  His 
father,  who  had  instructed  him  in  the  Bible  and  the 
Talmud,  died  when  his  son  was  a  youth  of  eighteen, 
and  two  years  later  Abraham  undertook  a  journey 
of  adventure,  as  he  relates,  in  order  to  discover  the 
mythical  river  Sabbation  or  Sambation,  and  to  be- 
come acquainted  with  the  supposed  Israelite  tribes 
dwelling  on  its  banks,  no  doubt  with  a  Messianic 
purpose.  His  mind  was  in  a  constant  tumult.  He 
wrestled  for  clearness,  but  fell  ever  deeper  into 
mazes  and  illusions.  One  thing,  however,  became 
evident  to  him,  that  the  philosophy  with  which  he 
had  much  occupied  himself  offered  no  certainty, 
and,  therefore,  no  satisfaction  to  the  religious  mind 
thirsting  after  truth.     Even  the   trite  Kabbala  as 

CH.    1.  ABRAHAM   ABULAFIA.  5 

commonly  accepted,  with  its  doctrine  about  the  Sefi- 
roth,  did  not  satisfy  his  soul,  since  both  only  nursed 
the  pride  of  knowledge.  He,  a  Kabbalist,  criticised 
the  unsoundness  of  this  mystic  theory  so  severely 
and  correctly  that  it  is  surprising  that  he  should  have 
conceived  still  more  insane  notions.  Abraham  Abu- 
lafia  sought  after  something  higher,  for  prophetic 
inspiration,  which  alone  opens  the  fountain  of  truth, 
without  traversing  the  laborious  path  of  systematic 

At  length  Abulafia  believed  that  he  had  found 
what  his  soul  was  yearning  for,  and  that  through 
divine  inspiration  he  had  come  upon  a  higher  Kab- 
bala,  in  relation  to  which  the  lower  mystical  doctrine 
and  philosophy  were  only  handmaids.  This  Kab- 
bala  alone,  he  maintained,  offers  the  means  of  com- 
ing into  spiritual  communion  with  the  Godhead,  and 
of  obtaining  prophetic  insight.  This  means  was  far 
from  new,  but  the  firm  conviction  of  its  effectiveness 
and  his  application  of  it  are  peculiar  to  Abulafia. 
To  decompose  the  words  of  Holy  Writ,  especially 
the  all-hallowed  name  of  God,  to  use  the  letters  as 
independent  notions  (Notaricon),  or  to  transpose 
the  component  parts  of  a  word  in  all  possible  per- 
mutations, so  as  to  form  words  from  them  (Tsiruf), 
or  finally  to  employ  the  letters  as  numbers  (Gema- 
tria),  these  are  the  means  of  securing  communion 
with  the  spirit-world.  But  this  alone  is  not  sufficient. 
He  who  desires  to  render  himself  worthy  of  a 
prophetic  revelation,  must  adopt  an  ascetic  mode  of 
living,  must  remove  himself  from  the  turmoil  of  the 
world,  shut  himself  up  in  a  quiet  chamber,  deliver 
his  soul  from  earthly  cares,  clothe  himself  in  white 
garments,  wrap  himself  up  with  Talith  and  Phylac- 
teries, and  devoutly  prepare  his  soul,  as  if  for  an 
interview  with  the  Deity.  Besides,  he  must  pro- 
nounce the  letters  of  God's  name  at  intervals,  with 
modulations  of  the  voice,  or  write  them  down  in  a 
certain  order,  at  the  same  time  making  energetic 

6  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH,  I, 

movements,  writhing  and  bending  forward  till  the 
mind  becomes  dazed,  and  the  heart  filled  with  a 
glow.  Then  the  body  will  be  surprised  by  sleep, 
and  a  sensation  will  arise,  as  if  the  soul  were  released 
from  the  body.  In  this  condition,  if  it  become  last- 
ing through  practice,  the  divine  grace  is  poured  into 
the  human  soul,  uniting  with  it  in  a  kiss,  and  the 
prophetic  revelation  follows  quite  naturally.  This 
means  of  working  himself  up  into  a  state  of  ecstasy 
Abulafia  certainly  practiced,  exciting  his  heated 
fancy  to  delirium  He  considered  his  Kabbala  to 
be  prophetic  inspiration,  by  means  of  which  he  alone 
could  penetrate  into  the  secrets  of  the  Torah.  For 
the  plain  sense  of  the  words  and  the  simple  practice 
of  the  religious  precepts  were  merely  for  the  un- 
initiated, like  milk  for  children.  Experts,  on  the 
other  hand,  find  the  higher  wisdom  in  the  numerical 
value  of  the  letters  and  in  the  manifold  changes  of 
the  words. 

In  this  way  he  laid  down  his  Kabbala,  in  anti- 
thesis to  the  superficial  or  baser  Kabbala,  which 
occupies  itself  with  the  Sefiroth,  and,  as  he  gibingly 
said,  erects  a  sort  of  Decem-unity  instead  of  the 
Christian  Trinity.  He  lectured  on  his  Kabbala 
in  Barcelona,  Burgos,  and  Medina-Celi.  So  low 
was  the  general  intelligence,  that  this  half-insane 
enthusiast  found  old  and  young  to  listen  to 
him.  Two  of  his  disciples,  Joseph  Jikatilla,  and 
Samuel,  alleged  to  be  a  prophet,  both  of  Medina- 
Celi,  proclaimed  themselves  to  be  prophets  and 
workers  of  miracles.  Abulafia  appears,  nevertheless, 
to  have  aroused  opposition  in  Spain,  or  at  least  not 
to  have  found  any  real  sympathy ;  he  left  his  native 
country  a  second  time,  betaking  himself  once  more 
to  Italy,  where  he  reckoned  upon  stronger  support. 
In  Urbino  for  the  first  time  he  produced  prophetic 
writings,  and  alleged  that  God  had  spoken  with  him. 
At  last  he  conceived  the  mad  idea  of  converting  the 
pope  to  Judaism  (Sabbath-eve,  1281).     The  attempt 

CH,  1.  ABULAFIA   IN   ROME.  7 

cost  him  dear.  He  was  arrested  two  days  later  in 
Rome,  languished  twenty-eight  days  in  prison,  and 
escaped  the  stake  only  through  the  circumstance 
that  God,  as  he  expressed  it,  had  caused  a  double 
mouth  (or  tongue  ?)  to  grow  in  him.  Possibly  he 
told  the  pope  that  he,  too,  taught  the  doctrine  of  the 
Trinity.  After  this  he  was  allowed  to  walk  about 
Rome  in  freedom.  Thence  Abulafia  proceeded  to 
the  island  of  Sicily,  and  in  Messina  he  met  with  a 
favorable  reception,  gaining  six  adherents.  Here 
he  finally  proclaimed  that  he  was  not  only  a  prophet 
but  the  Messiah,  and  set  forth  his  claims  in  writing 
(November,  1284).  God,  he  said,  had  revealed  to 
him  His  secrets,  and  had  announced  to  him  the  end 
of  the  exile  and  the  beginning  of  the  Messianic 
redemption.  The  gracious  event  was  to  take  place 
in  the  year  1 290.  Mysticism  has  always  been  the 
ground  on  which  Messianic  fancies  have  thriven. 

Through  strictly  moral  deportment,  ascetic  life 
and  revelations  veiled  in  obscure  formulae,  perhaps 
also  through  his  winning  personality  and  boldness, 
Abraham  Abulafia  found  many  in  Sicily  who  believed 
in  him,  and  began  to  make  preparations  for  return- 
ing to  the  Holy  Land.  But  the  intelligent  part  of 
the  Sicilian  congregation  hesitated  to  join  him  with- 
out investigation.  They  addressed  themselves  to 
Solomon  ben  Adret,  to  obtain  information  from  him 
respecting  Abraham  Abulafia.  The  rabbi  of  Bar- 
celona, who  was  acquainted  with  Abulafia's  earlier 
career,  sent  an  earnest  letter  to  the  community  of 
Palermo,  in  which  he  severely  condemned  the  self- 
constituted  Messiah  as  illiterate  and  dangerous. 
Naturally,  Abulafia  did  not  allow  this  attack  to 
remain  unanswered,  but  proceeded  to  defend  him- 
self from  the  denunciation.  In  a  letter  he  justified 
his  prophetic  Kabbala,  and  hurled  back  Ben  Adret's 
invectives  in  language  so  undignified  that  many 
thought  the  letter  not  genuine. 

But  his  abusive  retort  was  of  no  avail,  for  other 

8  HISTORY    OF    THE   JEWS.  CH.  I. 

congregations  and  rabbis,  who  may  have  feared 
that  a  persecution  might  be  the  consequence  of 
his  fantastic  doctrines,  also  expressed  themselves 
against  Abulafia.  He  was  harassed  so  much  in 
Sicily  that  he  had  to  leave  the  island,  and  settle  in 
the  tiny  isle  of  Comino,  near  Malta  (about  1288). 
Here  he  continued  to  publish  mystical  writings, 
and  to  assert  that  he  would  bring  deliverance  to 
Israel.  Persecution  had  embittered  him.  He  lev- 
eled charges  against  his  brethren  in  faith,  who  in 
their  stubbornness  would  not  listen  to  him  :  "Whilst 
the  Christians  believe  in  my  words,  the  Jews  eschew 
them,  and  absolutely  refuse  to  know  anything  of  the 
calculation  of  God's  name,  but  prefer  the  calculation 
of  their  money."  Of  those  who  exclusively  occu- 
pied themselves  with  the  Talmud,  Abulafia  said  that 
they  were  seized  by  an  incurable  disease,  and  that 
they  were  far  inferior  to  those  skilled  in  the  higher 
Kabbala.  Abraham  Abulafia,  besides  twenty-six 
on  other  subjects,  composed  at  least  twenty-two 
so-called  prophetic  works,  which,  although  the  pro- 
duct of  a  diseased  brain,  were  used  by  the  later 
Kabbalists.  What  at  last  became  of  the  prophetic 
and  Messianic  enthusiast  and  adventurer  is  not 

His  extravagant  conduct  did  not  fail  to  produce 
evil  consequences,  even  in  his  own  time,  and  was  as 
infectious  as  an  epidemic.  About  the  same  time 
there  arose  in  Spain  two  enthusiasts,  of  whom  one 
was  probably  Abraham  Abulafia's  disciple.  One  of 
them  made  his  appearance  in  the  small  town  Ayllon 
(in  the  district  of  Segovia),  the  other  in  the  large 
congregation  of  Avila,  Both  proclaimed  themselves 
to  be  prophets,  and  announced  in  mystic  language 
the  advent  of  the  Messianic  kingdom.  Both  found 
followers.  The  adherents  of  the  prophet  of  Avila 
related,  that  in  his  youth  he  had  been  ignorant,  and 
could  neither  read  nor  write ;  that  an  angel,  who 
appeared  to  him  in  his  sleeping,  and  sometimes  also 

CH.  I.  THE    PROPHETS    OF   AVLLON    AND    AVILA.  9 

in  his  waking  moments,  suddenly  endowed  him 
through  higher  inspiration,  with  the  power  of  writing 
a  comprehensive  work,  full  of  mystical  ideas,  and  a 
diffuse  commentary  (without  which  at  that  time  no 
fairly  respectable  book  could  be  conceived).  When 
the  people  of  Avila  and  remote  congregations  heard 
of  this  they  wondered  greatly.  The  story  excited 
extraordinary  interest,  and  the  representatives  of 
the  congregation  of  Avila  consulted  Solomon  ben 
Adret,  the  last  commanding  authority  of  that  time, 
as  to  whether  they  should  accept  this  new  prophecy. 

Himself  a  partial  follower  of  the  secret  science, 
subscribing  only  to  the  Biblical  and  the  Talmudical 
miracles,  the  rabbi  of  Barcelona  replied  that  he 
would  have  considered  the  affair  of  the  prophet  of 
Avila  as  arrant  fraud,  if  trustworthy  people  had  not 
attested  its  truth.  Still  he  could  not  possibly  recog- 
nize him  as  a  prophet,  for  he  lacked  the  principal 
conditions  which  the  Talmud  lays  down  as  essential 
to  prophecy :  outside  of  Palestine,  prophecy  is  alto- 
gether impossible ;  the  age  is  not  suitable  for  pro- 
phetic revelation,  and  the  prophetic  spirit  can  not  rest 
upon  a  perfectly  ignorant  person.  It  was  incredible 
that  a  man  should  go  to  bed  an  idiot  and  get  up  a 
prophet.  The  story  required  the  most  painstaking 
and  impartial  investigation. 

In  spite  of  the  warning  of  the  most  honored  rabbi 
of  the  time,  the  prophet  of  Avila  pursued  his  course, 
and  fixed  the  last  day  of  the  fourth  month  (1295) 
as  the  beginning  of  the  Messianic  redemption.  The 
easily  influenced  and  ignorant  multitude  made 
preparations  for  its  coming,  fasted,  and  spent  money 
lavishly  in  alms,  that  they  might  be  found  accept- 
able in  the  Messianic  kingdom,  and  be  permitted  to 
partake  of  its  bliss.  On  the  appointed  day,  the  de- 
luded people,  dressed  as  on  the  Day  of  Atonement, 
hastened  to  the  synagogues,  and  waited  there  to 
hear  the  trumpet-blasts  announcing  the  Messianic 
advent.     But  the  expected   Messiah  did  not  show 

10  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

himself,  nor  was  there  any  sign  of  him.  Instead, 
they  are  said  to  have  noticed  on  their  garments 
small  crosses,  for  which  they  were  totally  unpre- 
pared, and  which  pardy  sobered  and  pardy  terrified 
them.  It  is  possible  that  some  of  the  incredulous  in 
the  congregation  had  fastened  the  crosses  secretly 
on  their  garments,  either  to  practice  a  joke  upon 
their  credulous  brethren,  or  to  point  out  to  what 
end  Messianic  charlatanry  was  destined  to  lead 
them,  and  thus  cure  them  of  their  delusion.  Some 
of  the  impostor's  followers  are  said  to  have  gone 
over  to  Chrisdanity  in  consequence  of  this  incident ; 
others,  to  have  been  plunged  into  melancholy,  be- 
cause they  could  not  explain  the  presence  of  the 
crosses.  What  became  of  the  prophets,  or  beguiled 
deceivers,  of  Ayllon  and  Avila  is  not  related.  Like 
Abraham  Abulafia  they  were  lost  sight  of,  and  have 
importance  only  as  the  excrescences  of  a  diseased 
state.  It  is  possible  that  another  disciple  of  Abulafia, 
Joseph  Jikatilla,  who  also  was  looked  upon  as  a 
performer  of  miracles,  and  had  his  dwelling  not  far 
from  Ayllon,  played  a  part  in  the  mad  or  deceitfiil 
pranks  of  the  prophets  of  Ayllon  and  Avila.  Joseph 
ben  Abraham  Jikatilla  (born  in  Medina-Celi,  died  in 
Penjafiel,  after  1305),  heard,  at  the  age  of  twenty 
years,  an  exposition  of  the  bewildering  secret  doc- 
trine of  Abulafia,  and  whilst  the  latter  still  was  in 
Spain,  he  composed  a  Kabbalistic  book  of  his  own, 
in  which  he  exhibits  the  same  eccentricities  as  his 
master.  He,  too,  occupied  himself  with  the  mysti- 
cism of  letters  and  numbers,  and  with  the  transpo- 
sition of  letters.  Joseph  Jikatilla's  writings  are  in  real- 
ity only  an  echo  of  Abraham  Abulafia's  fancies;  the 
same  delusion  is  apparent  in  both.  But  far  more 
influential  and  more  pernicious  than  these  three 
Kabbalists,  Allatif,  Abulafia,  and  Jikatilla,  was  Moses 
de  Leon,  whose  ascendancy  was  felt  both  by  his 
contemporaries  and  posterity.  Although  a  contem- 
porary and  fellow-specialist  unmasked  his  perform- 

CH.  I. 


ances,  Moses  de  Leon  succeeded  in  introducing  into 
Jewish  literature  and  thought  a  book  which  gave  the 
Kabbala  a  firm  foundation  and  wide  extension,  in 
brief,  raised  it  to  the  zenith  of  its  power.  The  ques- 
tion about  Moses  ben  Shem  Tob  de  Leon  (born  in 
Leon  about  1250,  died  in  Arevalo,  1305)  is  only 
whether  he  was  a  selfish  or  a  pious  impostor.  His 
intention  was  certainly  to  deceive  and  lead  astray, 
and  in  this  respect  he  appears  much  baser  than 
Abulafia,  who  at  all  events  was  sincere  and  naive  in 
his  delusion.  A  sciolist,  who  had  mastered  neither 
the  Talmud  nor  any  other  subject  thoroughly,  Moses 
possessed  the  skill  to  use  deftly  the  little  that  he 
knew,  to  write  easily  and  fluently,  to  discover  a 
connection  between  the  most  remote  things  and 
verses  of  Scripture  piled  up  in  the  chamber  of  his 
memory,  and  to  couple  them  with  playful  wit.  Even 
the  Kabbala  was  not  present  to  him  as  a  system  ;  he 
knew  merely  its  forms  and  technical  terms,  and 
employed  them  in  a  skillful  manner. 

Of  careless  prodigality,  Moses  de  Leon  expended 
everything  that  he  had  without  reflecting  what  would 
remain  for  the  morrow  ;  he  made  use  of  the  Kabbala 
which  had  come  into  fashion  to  procure  for  himself 
a  rich  source  of  revenue.  He  led  a  wandering  life, 
lived  a  long  time  in  Guadalaxara,  then  in  Viverro,  in 
Valladolid,  and  finally  in  Avila.  At  first  he  publish- 
ed his  intellectual  productions  under  his  own  name 
(about  1285).  His  writings,  however,  were  not  suf- 
ficiently noticed,  and  brought  him  but  little  fame  and 
money.  Moses  de  Leon  then  hit  upon  a  much  more 
effective  means  for  opening  hearts  and  purses.  He 
commenced  the  composition  of  books  under  feigned 
but  honored  names.  If  he  put  the  doctrines  of  the 
Kabbala,  worn  threadbare,  to  be  sure,  into  the  mouth 
of  an  older,  highly  venerated  authority,  some  impos- 
ing name  from  the  dazzling  past, — taking  care,  of 
course,  to  make  the  coloring  and  the  method  of 
presentation  archaic — would  not  such  a  composition 

12  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I, 

be  eagerly  swallowed  ?  Would  he  not  be  richly 
rewarded  if  he  hinted  that  he  was  in  possession  of 
so  costly  a  treasure  ?  Moses  de  Leon  knew  well 
the  credulity  of  those  who  devoted  themselves  with 
more  or  less  earnestness  to  the  study  of  the  Kab- 
bala ;  how  they  eagerly  sought  for  every  word  which 
they  were  led  to  think  originated  from  ancient  times. 
For,  since  the  secret  science  had  been  promulgated, 
and  had  striven  for  recognition,  doctrines  which 
sounded  Kabbalistic  had  been  fathered  upon  old  and 
illustrious  names,  and  thus  had  found  acceptance. 
But  Moses  de  Leon  did  his  work  much  more  cleverly 
than  most  forgers.  He  found  the  most  likely  author 
for  the  secret  doctrine,  against  whom  there  could  be 
little  or  no  objection,  in  the  person  of  the  Tanaite 
Simon  bar  Yochai,  who  is  said  to  have  spent  thirteen 
years  in  a  cave,  solitary  and  buried  in  profound  reflec- 
tion, and  whom  ancient  mysticism  represented  as  re- 
ceiving revelations.  Simon  bar  Yochai  was  assuredly 
the  right  authority  for  the  Kabbala.  But  he  must  not 
be  permitted  to  write  or  speak  Hebrew,  for  in  this 
language  the  Kabbalists  would  recognize  the  echo 
of  their  own  voices.  He  must  express  himself  in 
Chaldee,  in  a  half  obscure  language,  peculiarly  fit 
for  secrets,  and  sounding  as  if  from  another-  world. 
And  thus  there  came  into  the  world  a  book,  the 
book  Zohar  (brilliancy),  which  for  many  centuries 
was  held  by  Jews  as  a  heavenly  revelation,  and  was 
and  partly  is  even  now  regarded  by  Christians  as  an 
old  tradition.  But  seldom  has  so  notorious  a  forgery 
so  thoroughly  succeeded.  Moses  de  Leon  well 
knew  how  to  produce  the  proper  effect  on  credulous 
readers.  He  made  Simon  bar  Yochai  appear  in 
splendor,  surrounded  by  a  halo,  in  the  book  Zohar, 
and  impart  his  revelation  to  a  circle  of  select  pupils 
(sometimes  twelve,  sometimes  six),  "scholars  who 
shine  with  heaven's  light."  "When  they  assembled 
to  compose  the  Zohar,  permission  was  granted  to 
the  prophet  Elijah,  to  all  the  members  of  the  celestial 

CH.  I.  SIMON    BAR   JOCHAI.  13 

conclave,  all  the  angels,  spirits,  and  higher  souls  to 
act  in  sympathy  with  them,  and  the  ten  spiritual 
substances  (Sefiroth)  were  charged  with  the  duty  of 
revealing  to  them  deeply  hidden  secrets,  reserved 
for  the  time  of  the  Messiah."  Or  in  another  version  : 
Simon  bar  Yochai  summoned  his  followers  to  a  great 
council,  and  heard  the  flapping  of  the  wings  of  the 
celestial  host,  who  also  had  assembled  to  listen  to 
the  disclosure  of  mysteries  till  then  unknown  even 
to  the  angels.  The  Zohar  glorifies  its  author  exces- 
sively. It  calls  him  the  holy  light,  who  stands  higher 
than  the  greatest  prophet,  Moses,  "the  faithful 
shepherd."  "  I  swear  by  the  holy  heavens  and  the 
holy  earth,"  the  Zohar  makes  Simon  bar  Yochai 
exclaim,  "  that  I  behold  now  what  no  other  mortal 
since  Moses  ascended  Sinai  for  the  second  time  has 
beheld,  aye,  even  more  than  he.  Moses  knew  not 
that  his  countenance  shone ;  I.  however,  know  that 
my  countenance  shines."  On  account  of  God's  love 
for  the  writer  of  the  Zohar,  his  generation  merited 
the  revelation  of  truths  till  then  hidden.  As  lono-  as 
he  who  illumines  everything  lives,  the  sources  of  the 
world  are  opened  and  all  secrets  are  disclosed. 
"  Woe  to  the  generation  forsaken  by  Simon  bar 
Yochai."  He  is  almot  deified  in  the  Zohar.  His  dis- 
ciples once  broke  out  into  ecstatic  praise  that  he  had 
mounted  the  degrees  to  heavenly  wisdom,  which 
none  of  his  predecessors  had  done;  and  of  him  it  is 
written  in  Scripture,  "All  men  are  to  appear  before 
the  lord,"  z.  <?.,  before  Simon  bar  Yochai.  This  extrav- 
aofant  grlorification  and  self-deification,  sufficient  to 
mark  a  forgery,  are  not  without  design.  They  were 
to  meet  the  objection,  how  the  Kabbala,  so  long 
unknown,  and  kept  secret  by  the  prudent  Kabba- 
lists — for  they  had  hesitated  to  impart  any  of  it  in 
writing — how  this  mysterious  wisdom  could  all  at 
once  come  to  light,  and  be  revealed  to  every  one's 
knowledge.  The  Zohar  frequently  uses  the  fol- 
lowinof  excuse:  As  the  time  in  which  Simon  bar  Yochai 


lived  was  especially  meritorious  and  rich  in  grace, 
and  as  the  Messianic  period  was  near,  the  veil  which 
had  concealed  the  book  so  long  could  now  be 
drawn  aside. 

There  are  certainly  very  few  compositions  which 
have  exercised  so  much  influence  as  the  Zohar,  or 
which  can  be  compared  with  it  in  regard  to  the  re- 
markable nature  of  its  contents  and  form.  It  is 
a  book  without  beginning  or  end,  of  which  it  is 
unknown  whether  it  once  formed  part  of  a  whole, 
whether  the  extant  portions  originally  belonged  to 
it,  or  were  added  later,  or  whether  at  an  earlier 
period  more  of  it  was  in  existence.  It  consists  of 
three  principal  parts,  with  appendices  and  explana- 
tory comments.  The  absence  of  form  in  this  farrago 
made  it  possible  for  certain  portions  to  be  imitated. 
It  is  so  easy  and  tempting  to  imitate  its  wild  though 
sonorous  style.  Thus  the  forgery  was  counter- 
forged.  It  is  not  positively  certain  whether  the  Zohar 
is  to  be  regarded  as  a  running  commentary  to  the 
Pentateuch,  as  a  theosophic  manual,  or  as  a  collec- 
tion of  Kabbalistic  sermons.  And  its  contents  are 
just  as  curious,  confused  and  chaotic  as  its  form  and 
external  dress.  The  Zohar  with  its  appendages  in 
no  wise  develops  a  Kabbalistic  system  like  Azriel's, 
neither  does  it  unfold  an  idea  like  Abraham  Abula- 
fia,  but  plays  with  the  Kabbalistic  forms  as  with  coun- 
ters—  with  the  En-Sof,  with  the  number  of  the  Sefi- 
roth,  with  points  and  strokes,  with  vowels,  accents, 
with  the  names  of  God  and  the  transposition  of  their 
letters,  as  well  as  with  the  Biblical  verses  and  Agadic 
sayings  —  casts  them  about  in  eternal  repetition,  and 
in  this  manner  produces  sheer  absurdities.  Occa- 
sionally it  gives  a  faint  suggestion  of  an  idea,  but  in 
a  trice  it  evaporates  in  feverish  fancies,  or  dissolves 
in  childish  silliness. 

The  underlying  principle  of  the  Zohar  (if  we  may 
speak  of  principles  in  reference  to  this  book)  is  that 
the  historical  narratives  and  religious  statutes  of  the 

CH.  I.  THE   ZOHAR.  1$ 

Bible  were  never  intended  to  be  understood  in  a 
plain,  simple  sense,  but  that  they  contain  something 
higher,  mysterious,  supernatural.  "  Is  it  conceiv- 
able," the  Zohar  makes  one  of  Simon  bar  Yochai's 
circle  exclaim,  "that  God  had  no  hoHer  matters  to 
communicate  than  these  common  things  about  Esau 
and  Hagar,  Laban  and  Jacob,  Balaam's  ass,  Balak's 
jealousy  of  Israel,  and  Zimri's  lewdness  ?  Does  a 
collection  of  such  tales,  taken  in  their  ordinary  sense, 
deserve  the  name  of  Torah  ?  And  can  it  be  said  of 
such  a  revelation  that  it  utters  the  pure  truth  ?"  "  If 
that  is  all  the  Torah  contains,"  remarks  Simon  bar 
Yochai  (orMoses  de  Leon),  "we  can  produce  in  our 
time  a  book  as  good  as  this,  aye,  perhaps  better. 
No,  no !  the  higher,  mystical  sense  of  the  Torah  is 
its  true  sense.  The  Biblical  narratives  resemble  a 
beautiful  dress,  which  enraptures  fools  so  that  they 
do  not  look  beneath  it.  This  robe,  however,  covers 
a  body,  i.  e.,  the  precepts  of  the  Law,  and  this  again  a 
soul,  the  higher  soul.  Woe  to  the  guilty,  who  assert 
that  the  Torah  contains  only  simple  stories,  and 
therefore  look  only  upon  the  dress.  Blessed  are  the 
righteous,  who  seek  the  real  sense  of  the  Law.  The 
jar  is  not  the  wine,  so  stories  do  not  make  up  the 
Torah."  Thus  the  secret  lore  of  Moses  de  Leon 
naturally  has  free  play  to  pervert  everything  and 
anything,  and  give  it  the  seal  of  sublimit}',  and  in 
this  manner  to  promulgate  a  false  doctrine,  not  only 
absurd,  sometimes  even  blasphemous  and  immoral. 
All  laws  of  the  Torah  are  to  be  considered  as  parts 
and  constituents  of  a  higher  world  ;  they  resolve 
themselves  into  the  mysteries  of  the  masculine  and 
feminine  principle  (positive  and  negative).  Only 
when  both  parts  meet,  does  the  higher  unity  arise. 
Consequently,  whenever  any  one  transgresses  one 
of  the  laws,  he  obscures  the  brilliant  image  of  the 
higher  world. 

It  is  almost   impossible  to  give   an   idea  of  the 
abuse  which  the  Zohar,  or  Moses  de  Leon,  practices 

l6  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

in  the  interpretation  of  Holy  Writ,  and  how  he 
twists  the  sense  of  the  words.  In  the  verse,  "Raise 
your  eyes  to  heaven,  and  see  who  has  created  this," 
a  profound  mystery  is  supposed  to  reside,  which  the 
prophet  Elijah  learned  in  the  celestial  school,  and 
revealed  to  Simon  bar  Yochai;  namely,  that  God  had 
been  unknown  and  obscure  before  the  creation  of 
the  world,  in  a  manner  existing,  and  still  not  exist- 
ing. He  was  the  "Who"  (the  unknown  subject). 
The  creation  is  part  of  His  self-revelation.  It  was 
by  the  creation  that  He  first  proclaimed  Himself  as 

The  Zohar  is  particularly  concerned  with  that  side 
of  man  which  is  an  eternal  riddle  to  man, — the  soul, 
its  origin  and  end.  Like  the  older  Kabbalists,  the 
Zohar  assumed  the  pre-existence  of  the  souls  in 
the  brilliant  world  of  the  Sefiroth.  They  are  there 
wrapped  in  a  spiritual  robe,  and  entranced  in  the 
contemplation  of  God's  light.  When  the  souls  are 
about  to  enter  this  world  they  assume  an  earthly 
garment,  the  body ;  but  as  soon  as  they  are  to  leave 
the  earth,  the  angel  of  death  divests  them  of  this 
earthly  garment.  If  a  soul  lives  piously  and  morally 
here  below,  it  receives  its  former  heavenly  robe,  and 
can  once  more  enjoy  the  blissful  ecstasy  of  God's 
presence ;  if  not,  particularly  if  it  departs  from  the 
world  impenitent,  it  wanders  about  naked  and 
ashamed  till  purified  in  hell.  The  nakedness  of  the 
soul,  paradise  and  hell — depicted  in  fantastic,  ba- 
roque, and  terrible  images — are  themes  for  which 
the  Zohar  often  and  gladly  makes  digressions. 
What  happens  to  the  soul  during  sleep,  and  the 
shadows  of  life  —  sin,  impurity  in  small  and  great 
things  —  are  likewise  favorite  subjects  for  discussion 
In  the  Zohar,  to  which  it  frequently  reverts,  present- 
ing them  in  the  greatest  variety  of  guises  and  repe- 
titions. One  of  the  older  Kabbalists  arrived  at 
the  notion  that  to  the  higher  world,  the  world  of 
light,  of  holiness,  and  of  angels,  there  was  a  sharp 


antithesis — a  world  of  darkness,  of  unholiness,  of 
Satan,  in  short  the  principle  of  evil,  which  was  like- 
wise developed  into  ten  degrees  (Sefiroth)  at  the 
creation  of  the  world.  In  spite  of  their  opposite 
characters,  the  two  worlds  are  of  one  origin,  forming 
opposite  poles,  and  are  in  the  same  relation  to  each 
other  as  the  right  side  is  to  the  left.  Accordingly, 
evil  is  called  in  the  language  of  the  Kabbalists  the 
left  or  other  side.  The  Kabbalists  gave  another 
representation  of  the  Satanic  empire.  On  the  bor- 
der of  the  world  of  light,  the  world  of  darkness  is 
situated,  and  encompasses  it  as  the  shell  surrounds 
the  kernel  of  the  fruit.  Hence  the  Zohar  meta- 
phorically designates  evil,  or  sin,  with  its  ten  de- 
grees, as  shell  (Kelifa).  This  side  is  the  favorite 
topic  of  the  Zohar;  for  here  it  can  apply  its  peculiar 
exposition  of  the  Scriptures.  The  ten  Sefiroth  of 
the  left  side,  the  Satanic  kingdom,  are  enumerated 
and  denominated  by  names  which  savor  of  barbar- 
ism. The  names  sound  like  those  of  the  princes  of 
the  demons  in  the  book  of  Enoch,  and  are  perhaps 
borrowed  thence :  Samael  or  Samiel,  Azael,  Angiel, 
Sariel,  Kartiel.  The  Zohar  identifies  all  blasphemers 
and  wicked  people  with  the  evil  principle  of  the 
"shells"  (Kelifoth) — the  first  serpent,  Cain,  Esau, 
Pharaoh,  and  Esau's  empire,  Rome,  and  the  civil 
and  spiritual  power  of  Christendom  in  the  Middle 
Ages,  which  rested  on  violence  and  injustice.  Israel 
and  righteous  people,  on  the  other  hand,  belong  to 
the  world  of  light,  the  right  Sefiroth.  "He  who 
goes  after  the  left  side  (sin),  and  defiles  his  actions, 
draws  upon  himself  the  impure  spirits  ;  they  attach 
themselves  to  him,  nor  do  they  ever  leave  him." 
The  laws  of  the  Torah  have  no  other  object  than  to 
effect  and  cherish  the  union  of  the  souls  with  the 
world  of  light.  Every  transgression  of  them  brings 
the  souls  to  the  world  of  darkness,  evil  spirits,  and 
impurity.  The  Zohar  coarsely  represents  the  con- 
nection of  the  souls  with  light  or  with  darkness  by 

1 8  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

the  image  of  wedded  union,  as,  in  general,  it  as- 
serts the  mascuhne  and  feminine  principle  in  the 
higher  world,  even  in  reference  to  the  Deity.  As 
long  as  Israel  lives  in  exile,  the  divine  unity  is  defi- 
cient and  disrupted ;  God  will  become  one  only  in 
those  days  when  the  Mistress  (Matronita)  will 
espouse  the  King. 

Moses  de  Leon  would  have  left  n.  gap,  if  he  had 
not  spoken  of  the  Messianic  period — the  keynote  of 
the  Kabbala — and  determined  its  date.  In  fact,  the 
sudden  revelation  of  the  doctrine  so  long  held 
secret  rests  on  the  assumption  that  the  time  of  the 
Messiah  is  near.  But  here  the  forger  betrays  him^ 
self  Instead  of  indicating  a  period  or  a  year  for 
the  appearance  of  the  Messiah  approximating  the 
age  of  Simon  bar  Yochai  (in  the  second  century), 
the  Zohar,  with  its  casuistical  playing  with  letters 
and  numbers,  demonstrated  that  it  would  happen  in 
the  beginning  of  the  fourteenth  century,  therefore 
in  the  lifetime  of  the  author.  **  When  the  sixtieth 
or  the  sixty-sixth  year  will  pass  the  threshold  of  the 
sixth  thousand,  the  Messiah  will  show  himself ;"  but 
some  time  will  pass  before  all  nations  will  be  con- 
quered, and  Israel  be  gathered  together.  The  Mes- 
siah will  first  be  summoned  to  appear  on  earth  from 
his  secret  abode  in  Paradise,  "the  bird's  nest," 
where  he  has  been  dwelling  in  bliss  since  the  begin- 
ning of  the  world.  A  bloody  conflict  will  then  break 
out  in  the  world.  Edom  and  Ishmael  (Christian  and 
Mahometan  nations)  will  vehemendy  contend  with 
one  another,  and  eventually  both  will  be  annihilated 
by  a  mightier  conquering  people.  Signs  and  mira- 
cles will  presage  the  time,  and  the  resurrection  of 
the  dead  and  a  general  diffusion  of  the  Kabbalistic 
knowledge  of  God  will  constitute  the  end  of  the 
world.  Moses  de  Leon  intended  to  arouse  in  the 
minds  of  his  contemporaries  the  hope  that  they 
would  behold  the  time  of  the  Messiah  with  their  own 
eyes.     He  was  perhaps  as  much  a  victim  to  Messi- 


anic  enthusiasm  as  Abraham  Abulafia.  Despite  the 
Zohar's  endeavor  to  exalt  rabbinical  Judaism  and  its 
law,  and  by  a  mystical  explanation  to  give  every 
custom,  however  trivial,  a  special  signification  and 
higher  import,  it  carps  at  and  criticises  the  Talmud 
and  its  method,  though  in  an  obscure,  equivocal 
manner,  and  with  the  most  innocent  air  in  the 
world.  It  represents  the  study  of  the  Kabbala  as 
of  much  higher  importance  than  the  study  of  the 
Talmud,  and  even  of  the  Bible.  The  Kabbala  has 
the  power  of  soaring,  and  is  able  to  follow  the  flight 
of  the  Deity  in  His  inscrutable  guidance  of  things  ; 
the  Talmud,  on  the  other  hand,  and  its  adherents, 
have  clipped  wings,  and  cannot  elevate  themselves 
to  higher  knowledge.  The  Zohar  compares  the 
Mishna  (Talmud)  with  a  lowly  slave  ;  the  Kabbala, 
on  the  other  hand,  with  a  powerful  mistress.  The 
former  has  to  do  with  inferior  matters,  with  "  clean 
and  unclean,"  with  "permitted  and  prohibited,"  with 
"  what  is  and  is  not  fit  to  be  used."  As  long  as  this 
woman  rules  with  her  "now  pure,  at  another  time 
impure  blood,"  the  union  of  the  Father  with  the 
Matrona  (God  with  Israel)  cannot  take  place.  In 
the  Messianic  period,  on  the  other  hand,  when  the 
higher  knowledge  will  awake,  and  gain  the  ascend- 
ency, the  Kabbala  will  once  more  assert  its  domin- 
ion over  the  slave  (Talmud),  as  in  the  time  of  the 
lawgiver  Moses.  The  Zohar  lastly  compares  the 
study  of  the  Talmud  with  a  rugged,  unproductive 
rock  which,  when  struck,  gives  out  scanty  drops  of 
water,  causing  only  disputes  and  discussions.  The 
Kabbala,  on  the  other  hand,  is  like  a  spring  flowing 
abundantly,  to  which  only  a  word  needs  to  be  spoken 
to  cause  it  to  pour  out  its  refreshing  and  vivifying 

When  the  Zohar  or  Midrash  of  Simon  bar  Yochal 
was  published,  it  aroused  the  greatest  wonder  among 
the  Kabbalists.  They  seized  upon  it  with  avidity. 
Moses  de  Leon  received  vast  multitudes  of  orders 


to  send  copies.  The  question,  whence  all  at  once 
had  come  so  comprehensive  a  work  of  an  old  teacher 
of  the  Mishna,  not  a  trace  of  which  had  been  known 
till  then,  was  thus  answered:  Nachmani  had 
exhumed  it  in  Palestine,  had  sent  it  to  his  son  in 
Catalonia,  by  a  whirlwind  it  had  been  carried  to 
Aragon  or  Alicante  (Valencia),  where  it  had  fallen 
into  the  hands  of  Moses  de  Leon,  who  alone  pos- 
sessed the  original  document.  The  repute  of  the 
newly  discovered  Kabbalistic  treasure  soon  spread 
through  the  whole  of  Spain.  The  school  of  Abulafia 
at  once  gave  the  Zohar  the  tribute  of  its  acknowl- 
edgment, and  considered  it  indisputably  genuine. 
Moses  de  Leon's  wildest  hopes  were  more  than 
realized.  There  were,  of  course,  Kabbalists  who 
doubted  that  the  Zohar  had  originated  with  Simon 
bar  Jochai  and  his  school,  but  none  the  less  did  they 
pay  homage  to  the  book  as  to  a  pure  source  for 
Kabbalistic  theories.  When  the  Kabbalist  Isaac  of 
Accho,whohad  escaped  the  massacre  that  had  ensued 
upon  the  capture  of  that  city,  arrived  in  Spain,  and 
saw  the  Zohar,  he  was  staggered,  and  became 
desirous  of  coming  to  the  root  of  the  question, 
whether  this  alleged  ancient  Palestinian  work  was 
really  genuine,  as  he  had  been  born  and  educated 
in  the  Holy  Land,  had  associated  with  Nachmani's 
pupils,  and  yet  had  never  heard  a  syllable  about  it. 
When  he  met  Moses  de  Leon  in  Valladolid,  the 
latter  took  a  solemn  oath  that  he  had  in  his  house 
at  Avila  an  old  copy  of  the  book  from  the  hand  of 
Simon  bar  Yochai,  and  pledged  himself  to  submit  it 
to  Isaac  of  Accho  for  examination.  But  Moses  de 
Leon  became  ill  on  his  journey  home,  and  died 
in  Arevalo  (1305).  The  veil  around  the  origin 
of  the  Zohar  was  wrapped  still  closer.  Two 
influential  men  of  Avila,  David  Rafan  and  Joseph 
de  Avila,  had  indeed  discovered  the  simple  truth 
from  Moses  de  Leon's  wife  and  daughter.  Moses 
de  Leon  had  never  possessed   the   original   copy. 


but  had  evolved  it  out  of  his  own  inner  conscious- 
ness, and  had  written  it  with  his  own  hand.  His 
wife  frankly  related  that  she  had  often  asked  her 
husband  why  he  published  the  productions  of  his 
own  intellect  under  a  strange  name,  and  that  he 
had  answered  that  the  Zohar  would  not,  under  his 
own  name,  have  brought  him  any  money,  but 
assigned  to  Simon  bar  Yochai  it  had  been  a  lucrative 
source  of  income. 

Thus  wife  and  daughter,  without  being  aware  of 
the  full  gravity  of  their  assuredly  unassailable 
testimony,  unmasked  Moses  de  Leon  as  a  forger. 
Nevertheless,  the  Zohar  met  with  the  unqualified 
applause  of  the  Kabbalists,  because  it  supplied  a 
want  which  would  have  had  to  be  provided  for  in 
one  way  or  another.  The  Kabbalistic  doctrine, 
which  had  already  gained  so  much  weight,  had 
hitherto  been  without  firm  basis ;  it  had  no  other 
authority  than  the  very  doubtful  one  of  Isaac  the 
Blind.  Now  the  dignified  figure  of  a  teacher  of  the 
Mishna  in  communion  with  departed  spirits  and 
celestial  hosts  and  angels  confirmed  the  truths  which 
were  not  only  doubted  by  many  at  the  time,  but 
absolutely  ridiculed.  Should  they,  then,  not  cling 
to  it  and  defend  it?  What  Moses  de  Leon  put  into 
the  mouth  of  Simon  bar  Yochai,  "  Many  will  range 
themselves  round  the  book  Zohar,  when  it  becomes 
known,  and  nourish  their  minds  with  it  at  the  end 
of  days,"  actually  happened  soon  after  his  death. 
If  the  Zohar  did  not  bring  the  Kabbalists  anything 
essentially  new,  it  exhibited  to  them  what  they 
did  know  in  so  peculiar  a  form  and  language, 
that  they  were  wonderstruck.  Everything  in  it  is 
contrived  for  effect,  for  illusion,  and  for  fascina- 
tion. The  long  discussions  which  Simon  bar  Yochai 
holds  with  his  circle  or  with  the  "  faithful  shepherd," 
have  dramatic  power,  especially  the  scene  in  which, 
in  premonition  of  his  speedy  dissolution,  he  imparts 
once  more  what  he  so  often  had  proclaimed.     Full 

22  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

of  effect,  and,  upon  minds  easily  accessible  to  faith, 
of  transporting  and  overwhelming  influence,  are  the 
oft-recurring  exclamations  in  the  Zohar :  Woe,  woe 
to  those  who  believe,  or  do  not  believe,  or  fail  to 
respect,  this  and  that.  Sometimes  short  prayers  are 
interspersed,  which,  being  elevated  and  imaginative, 
are  peculiarly  fitted  to  fill  the  soul  with  mysterious 
awe.  Even  the  characteristic  terms  introduced 
instead  of  the  usual  Kabbalistic  forms  are  calculated 
to  arouse  interest  by  their  double  sense.  The  author 
designated  God  and  the  higher  spiritual  substances 
(Sefiroth)  collectively  or  in  their  single  parts  and 
effects,  as  father,  mother,  the  prototype  of  man,  bride, 
matron,  the  white  head,  the  large  and  the  small  face, 
the  mirror,  the  higher  heaven,  the  higher  earth,  lily, 
apple-orchard,  and  so  on.  The  pious  were  gained 
over  to  the  side  of  the  Zohar,  as  it  attributes  to  every 
religious  custom  and  every  practice  a  higher  import, 
a  higher  sanctity,  and  a  mysterious  effect. 

So  a  new  text-book  of  religion  was  by  stealth 
introduced  into  Judaism.  It  placed  the  Kabbala, 
which  a  century  before  had  been  unknown,  on  the 
same  level  as  the  Bible  and  the  Talmud,  and  to  a 
certain  extent  on  a  still  higher  level.  The  Zohar 
undoubtedly  produced  good,  in  so  far  as  it  opposed 
enthusiasm  to  the  legal  dry-as-dust  manner  of  the 
study  of  the  Talmud,  stimulated  the  imagination  and 
the  feelings,  and  cultivated  a  disposition  that  re- 
strained the  reasoning  faculty.  But  the  ills  which  it 
has  brought  on  Judaism  outweigh  the  good  by  far. 
The  Zohar  confirmed  and  propagated  a  gloomy 
superstition,  and  strengthened  in  people's  minds 
the  belief  in  the  kingdom  of  Satan,  in  evil  spirits 
and  ghosts. 

Through  its  constant  use  of  coarse  expressions, 
often  verging  on  the  sensual,  in  contradistinction 
to  the  chaste,  pure  spirit  pervading  Jewish  litera- 
ture, the  Zohar  sowed  the  seeds  of  unclean  desires, 
and  later  on  produced  a  sect  that  laid  aside  all  regard 


for  decency.     Finally,  the  Zohar  blunted  the  sense 
for  the  simple  and  the  true,  and  created  a  visionary 
world,  in  which  the  souls  of  those  who  zealously 
occupied  themselves  with  it  were  lulled  into  a  sort 
of  half-sleep,  and  lost  the  faculty  of  distinguishing 
between  right  and  wrong.     Its  quibbling  interpreta- 
tions of  Holy  Writ,  adopted  by  the  Kabbalists  and 
others  infected  with  this  mannerism,  perv^erted  the 
verses  and  words  of  the  Holy  Book,  and  made  the 
Bible  the  wrestling-ground  of  the  most  curious,  in- 
sane notions.     The  Zohar  even  contains  utterances 
which  seem  favorable  to  the  Christian  dogma  of  the 
Trinity  of  the  Godhead.    The  mystics  dismembered 
the  fair  form   of  Holy  Writ,  indulged  in  mad  sport, 
and  stupefied   all   sense  for  truth,  but  they    were 
scarcely  more  guilty  in  this  respect  than  the  so-called 
philosophers  of  the   time.     Maimuni's    attempt   to 
bring  Judaism  and  its  religious  literature  into  conso- 
nance with  reason,  to  give  certain  too  realistic  verses 
of  the  Bible  a  philosophical,  or  at  least  a  tolerable 
sense,  and  place  religious  precepts  on  the  basis  of 
an  intelligible,  acceptable  purpose,  encouraged  half- 
learned  men  to  explain  everything  and  anything  in 
the  same  way.     Hence  the  allegorizing  of  the  Scrip- 
tures, the  Agada,  and  the  rites,  was  carried  to  an 
incredible  extreme.     These  pseudo-philosophers  di- 
vested the  stories  of  the  creation  and  of  the  patri- 
archs of  their  historical  character,  and  interpreted 
them  as  philosophical  commonplaces,  in  which  they 
sported  with  Aristotelian  and  Maimunist  terms,  as 
the  Zohar  with  Kabbalistic  terms.     Abraham  and 
Sarah,  for  example,  denote  to  the  allegorists  matter 
and  form,  Pharaoh  denotes  vicious  desires,  Egypt  the 
body,  the  land  of  Goshen  the  heart,  Moses  the  divine 
spirit,  and  the  Urim  and  Thummim,  which  the  High 
Priest  wore  on  his  breast  in  the  Temple,  were  the 
astrolabe  of  the  astronomers,  with  which  they  calcu- 
lated   time,  longitude   and    latitude.     If  there  had 
been  at  that  time  any  Jewish  thinkers  of  the  first 

24  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  1. 

rank,  they  would  have  made  serious  efforts  to  put  a 
stop  to  this  childish  proceeding,  whether  Kabbalistic 
or  pseudo-philosophical.  But  the  age  of  Ben  Adret 
happened  to  be  poor  in  great  intellects.  Even  the 
two  chief  representatives  of  the  philosophy  of  that 
time,  Shem-Tob  Falaquera  and  Isaac  Albalag,  were 
not  above  mediocrity,  and  were  themselves  tainted 
with  the  current  errors. 

There  were,  however,  certain  men  of  bolder  spirit, 
who  from  philosophical  premises  drew  conclusions 
endangering  the  stability  of  Judaism.  Like  their 
predecessors,  the  Alexandrine  allegorists,  many  in- 
telligent and  consistent  thinkers  were  induced  at 
this  time  to  disregard  the  ceremonies  of  Judaism  by 
assigning  erroneous  purposes  to  religious  precepts. 
As  the  ceremonies  are  intended  simply  to  awaken 
certain  religious,  philosophical,  or  moral  feelings, 
they  argued,  it  is  sufficient  to  call  up  these  thoughts, 
to  be  penetrated  by  them,  to  occupy  one's  mind 
constantly  with  them,  while  the  observance  of  relig- 
ious customs  is  superfluous.  Several  members  of 
this  school  denied  Moses'  prophetic  character,  ac- 
cepting him  only  as  an  ordinary  lawgiver,  such  as 
other  nations  had,  and  thus  rejected  the  divinity  of 
the  Torah.  The  pseudo-philosophers  cast  a  doubt 
upon  the  very  fundamentals  of  Judaism,  and  thereby 
provoked  a  reaction  injurious  to  free  inquiry. 

The  chief  authority  of  this  allegorical  school  was 
a  man  of  vast  erudition,  but  full  of  crotchets,  who, 
without  desiring  it,  occasioned  violent  conflicts. 
This  was  Levi  ben  Abraham  ben  Chayim,  of  Ville- 
franche,  not  far  from  Perpignan  (born  about  1240, 
died  after  1315).  Coming  from  a  respectable  family 
of  scholars,  he  was  deeply  read  in  the  Talmud  ;  but 
he  was  more  attracted  by  Maimuni's  philosophy  and 
Ibn-Ezra's  astrology,  being  a  warm  adherent  of  the 
belief  of  the  latter  in  the  influence  of  the  stars  over 
human  destiny.  Of  a  volatile  rather  than  a  solid 
mind,  Levi  ben  Chayim  had  no  perfect  conception 


of  Maimuni's  aims.  To  him  Judaism  resolved  itself 
into  philosophical  platitudes,  which,  preposterous 
and  childish  as  they  sound  to  us,  were,  strange  to 
say,  regarded  by  the  people  of  early  times  as  pro- 
found wisdom.  Ben  Chayim  was  the  disseminator 
of  that  superficial  method  satisfied  with  formulae 
instead  of  thoughts.  He  composed  two  chief  works, 
one  in  verse,  the  other  in  prose,  a  kind  of  encyclo- 
paedia, in  which  he  applied  the  theory  derived  from 
Maimuni  to  all  branches  of  knowledge.  In  these 
books  he  translated  the  historical  narratives  in  the 
Bible  into  philosophical  generalities,  explained  the 
standing  still  of  the  sun  on  the  occasion  of  Joshua's 
victory  as  a  natural  occurrence,  and  in  general, 
adopted  any  method  of  expounding  which  depends 
on  word-t\visting.  Levi  ben  Chayim  repudiated  the 
allegorical  interpretations  of  laws;  in  fact,  he  de- 
nounced the  allegorists  as  heretics,  and  desired  to 
preserve  the  historical  character  of  the  biblical 
narratives  as  much  as  possible.  Like  his  proto- 
type, Ibn-Ezra,  he  tried  to  keep  secret  his  deepest 
convictions,  so  that  not  even  his  friends  could  fathom 
his  ideas.  This  Judaism,  disfigured  by  absurd  phil- 
osophical interpretations,  was  not  only  privately 
taught,  but  preached  in  the  synagogues. 

The  home  of  this  pseudo-philosophy  was  the  not 
insignificant  congregation  of  Perpignan,  the  capital 
of  the  province  of  Roussillon,  which  belonged  to  the 
kingdom  of  Aragon.  Although  the  Jews  had  no 
enviable  lot,  and  were  compelled  to  live  in  the  most 
miserable  part  of  the  town,  that  assigned  to  lepers, 
they  nevertheless  preserved  a  taste  for  science  and 
free  inquiry,  and  eagerly  awaited  the  new  theories 
taught  by  the  exponents  and  followers  of  Maimuni's 
philosophy.  Here  poor  Levi  of  Villefranche  had 
found  a  place  of  refuge  at  the  house  of  a  rich  and 
influential  man,  Don  Samuel  Sulami  or  Sen  Escalita, 
whose  piety,  learning  and  liberality  were  praised 
beyond   measure   by  his   contemporaries.     "From 

26  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  L 

Perpignan  to  Marseilles  there  is  not  another  who 
can  be  compared  with  Samuel  Sulami  in  knowledge 
of  the  Law,  benevolence,  piety  and  humility.  He 
gives  charity  in  secret,  his  house  is  open  to  every 
traveler;  and  he  is  indefatigable  in  getting  books 
for  his  collection."  He  corresponded  on  learned 
topics  with  Ben  Adret,  and  took  interest  in  the  phil- 
osophical interpretation  of  the  Bible  and  the  Agada. 
Even  the  rabbi  of  Perpignan  was  a  friend  of  free 
thought  and  a  determined  enemy  of  mummified 
orthodoxy  and  the  unreflecting  faith  of  the  literalist. 
This  was  Don  Vidal  Menachem  ben  Solomon  Meiri 
(born  Elul,  1249,  died  about  1306),  little  celebrated 
in  his  own  time,  but  none  the  less  of  great  impor- 
tance. Though  not  of  commanding  influence,  he 
possessed  an  attractive  personality.  He  had  what 
nearly  all  his  contemporaries  sorely  lacked,  mod- 
eration and  tact.  These  qualities  are  revealed 
particularly  in  Meiri's  style.  Nearly  all  the  Jewish 
authors  of  Spain  and  Provence  wrote  their  prose 
and  verse  in  a  redundant,  bombastic  style,  as  if  the 
whole  literary  thesaurus  of  the  Bible  were  needed  to 
express  a  meager  idea.  The  much-admired  model 
of  this  time,  the  moral  poet  Yedaya  Bedaresi,  is  so 
prolix  in  saying  the  most  ordinary  platitude,  that  one 
has  to  peruse  whole  pages  of  his  apology,  reflections, 
and  miscellaneous  writings  before  coming  across  a 
tolerable  idea.  The  style  in  vogue,  a  mosaic  of 
Biblical  phrases,  favored  verbosity.  But  Don  Vidal 
Meiri  forms  a  glorious  exception  to  this  practice,  his 
style  being  terse  and  clear.  In  his  commentaries  to 
the  tractates  of  the  Talmud  which  relate  to  cere- 
monial duties,  he  proceeds  throughout  in  a  method- 
ical manner,  advances  from  the  general  to  the  par- 
ticular, arranges  his  material  in  lucid  order,  and 
seeks  to  give  the  reader  information,  not  to  confuse 
him.  Of  a  similar  character  is  Meiri's  exposition  of 
Holy  Writ.  The  philosophers  and  mystics  always 
endeavored  to  find  some  higher  meaning  in  it,  the 


simple  explanation  being  too  prosaic  for  them,  and 
accordingly  they  put  upon  the  Bible  their  own  ex- 
travagant nonsense.  Not  so  Meiri.  He  certainly 
assumed  that  there  are  many  commands  and  narra- 
tives in  the  Bible  which  point  to  something  higher 
than  the  Hteral  meaning,  but  the  majority  of  theni 
must,  he  maintained,  be  taken  quite  literally.  Meiri 
was  naturally  dissatisfied  with  the  extravagant  man- 
nerisms of  the  allegorists,  but  it  did  not  enter  his 
mind  to  reject  the  good  together  with  the  bad,  to 
interdict  learning  because  of  its  abuse. 

These  proceedings  were  not  regarded  quite  so 
calmly  by  certain  bigots,  dwelling  in  the  city  which 
had  produced  tlie  obscurantist  Solomon  of  Mont- 
pellier,  the  proscriber  of  Maimuni  and  his  composi- 
tions, and  author  of  so  much  dissension  and  evil. 
Although  pseudo-philosophical  extravaganzas  were 
not  more  dangerous  than  the  follies  of  the  Kab- 
balists,  the  watchers  of  Zion  nevertheless  overlooked 
the  latter,  and  waged  energetic  warfare  with  the 
former,  so  that  the  philosophers  obtained  more 
weight  than  they  would  otherwise  have  had.  The 
bigots  of  Montpellier  well-nigh  kindled  the  fire  of 
discord  in  Jacob.  The  first  instigator  of  this  ill- 
timed  zeal  belonged  to  that  class  of  men  who  mark 
off  the  province  of  faith  according  to  an  exact  rule, 
denounce  every  movement  and  opinion  which  trans- 
gress their  limit  as  heresy,  and  desire  to  have 
them  rooted  out  with  anathemas  and  scourges, 
where  possible  with  fire  and  sword  —  a  class  of  men 
in  whom  fanatical  zeal  cannot  be  separated  from  a 
kind  of  egoism.  To  this  category  belonged  Abba- 
Mari  ben  Moses,  of  Montpellier,  or^  as  his  aristo- 
cratic title  ran,  Don  Astruc  En-Duran  de  Liinel. 
Of  a  respectable  family,  and  of  great  influence  in 
the  capital  of  Languedoc,  Abba-Mari  was  certainly 
not  without  culture,  and  he  had  great  veneration 
for  Maimuni  and  his  compositions ;  but  he  had 
irrevocably  attached  himself  to  the  Jewish  creed  as 


laid  down  by  Nachmani,  and  was  indignant  if  any- 
one ventured  to  consider  it  from  the  point  of  view 
of  another  system.  He  did  not  object  to  miraculous 
tales ;  on  the  contrary,  the  more  the  better.  The 
conclusions  of  philosophy  and  science,  which  denied 
the  possibility  of  these  miracles,  in  no  way  disturbed 
him.  In  the  choice  between  Moses  and  Aristotle, 
or  between  the  authorities  of  the  Talmud  and  the 
upholders  of  philosophy,  he  was  not  for  a  moment 
doubtful  to  whom  to  give  the  preference.  To  be 
sure,  this  narrow-minded  point  of  view  is  justifiable  ; 
but  Abba-Mari  wanted  to  thrust  his  opinion  upon 
every  one  else,  and  to  persecute  all  who  thought 
otherwise.  Not  only  did  he  hold  in  abomination 
the  allegorical  exegesis  publicly  preached,  but  he 
reprobated  the  study  of  all  profane  literature  as  the 
cause  of  this  aberration.  He  regretted  that  the 
scourge  could  no  more  be  brought  into  requisition 
to  silence  those  who  filled  their  minds  with  such 
learning  as  endangered  religion. 

Abba-Mari,  however,  did  not  possess  sufficient 
authority  to  proceed  against  Levi  of  Villefranche 
and  his  school.  He  addressed  himself  to  the  most 
influential  rabbi  of  the  time,  Ben  Adret  of  Barcelona, 
and  charged  that  their  perversities  would  accomplish 
the  dissolution  of  Judaism,  if  a  restraint  were  not 
put  upon  them.  He  importuned  Ben  Adret  to 
exercise  his  great  influence.  The  rabbi  naturally 
found  the  circumstance  deplorable  that  "  strangers 
had  forced  their  way  through  the  gates  ofZion." 
He  exhorted  Abba-Mari  to  organize  a  party  to 
oppose  this  extravagant  movement,  but  positively 
refused  his  support,  as  he  did  not  like  to  interfere  in 
the  affairs  of  congregations  abroad.  Other  bigots, 
however,  took  up  the  cause,  and  hurried  it  to  a  crisis, 
among  them  Don  Bonafoux  Vidal,  of  Barcelona,  and 
his  brother,  Don  Crescas  Vidal,  who  had  moved  to 
Perpignan,  both  highly  respected  and  learned,  but  as 
intolerant  as  Abba-Mari.  Don  Crescas  made  a  propo- 


sition,  which  met  with  much  applause.  The  study  of 
science,  and  the  reading  of  profane  Uterature  in 
general,  was  to  be  prohibited  to  Jewish  youths  till 
their  thirtieth  year.  Only  men  of  mature  age,  "  who 
had  filled  their  minds  with  the  Bible  and  the  Talmud, 
were  to  be  allowed  to  warm  themselves  by  the 
strange  fires  of  philosophy  and  the  natural  sciences." 
Although  Ben  Adret  did  not  feel  disposed  to  take 
measures  against  the  study  of  science,  he  neverthe- 
less considered  it  his  duty  to  persecute  the  provoker 
of  so  much  animosity.  He  took  umbrage  at  the 
pious  Samuel  Sulami  for  granting  a  heretic  shel- 
ter in  his  house,  thus  giving  him  an  opportunity  to 
spread  his  pernicious  views.  He  harassed  Samuel 
Sulami  so  unmercifully,  and  subjected  his  conscience 
to  such  torment,  that  the  man,  not  very  remarkable 
for  strength  of  character,  became  shaken  in  his  pre- 
vious convictions.  When  a  daughter  of  his  died  he 
believed  that  it  was  a  punishment  for  his  sinfulness, 
and  renounced  his  hospitality  to  Levi.  Many  mem- 
bers of  the  congregation  of  Perpignan  bitterly 
resented  the  suspicion  of  heresy  cast  upon  Levi, 
and  as  they  knew  Ben  Adret  to  be  a  man  of  stain- 
less character,  they  vented  their  dissatisfaction  on 
the  instigator,  Abba-Mari,  to  whom  they  imputed 
sordid  ulterior  designs  and  personal  motives. 

Abba-Mari  and  his  allies,  who  felt  themselves 
helpless  without  powerful  support,  labored  without 
intermission  to  inflame  the  zeal  of  the  Barcelona 
rabbinate,  that  it  might  forbid  free  inquiry  and  the 
study  of  science.  At  the  same  time  they  promised 
the  co-operation  of  the  whole  congregation  of  Mont- 
pellier,  which,  being  the  chief  one  in  southern 
France,  would  draw  other  communities  after  it.  Ben 
Adret  and  his  college,  imagining  from  Abba-Mari's 
exaggerated  description  that  Judaism  was  in  the  great- 
est danger,  were  at  last  determined  to  take  up  the 
matter,  but  desired  first  to  sound  the  congregation 
of  Montpellier  as  to  its  feeling  on  the  subject,  and  for 

3©  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

this  purpose  sent  a  letter  to  be  read  before  the 
members  in  case  they  felt  disposed  to  join  them  in 
interdicting  the  study  of  the  natural  sciences.  But 
as  soon  as  the  proposed  ban  against  the  sciences 
became  known,  decided  opposition  arose  among  the 
most  important  men  of  the  congregation. 

There  was  at  that  time  in  Montpellier  a  man,  who 
by  reason  of  his  family,  position,  wealth  and  knowl- 
edge, was  held  in  high  estimation  by  his  people, 
and  who  had  imbibed  a  love  for  the  sciences  with  his 
mother's  milk.  Jacob  ben  Machir  Tibbon,  known 
in  Christian  circles  as  Don  Profiat,  or  Profatius 
(born  about  1236,  died  after  131 2),  was  descended 
on  one  side  from  the  celebrated  Meshullam  of 
Liinel,  the  first  to  promote  a  revival  of  learning 
in  southern  France,  and  on  the  other  side  he  was 
related  to  the  Tibbonides.  From  his  birth  he  was 
taught  to  look  upon  Judaism  and  science  as  twin 
sisters,  dwelling  together  in  the  utmost  harmony. 
Like  all  educated  Jews  of  his  time,  he  was  well 
grounded  in  Jewish  literature,  the  Bible,  and  the 
Talmud,  practiced  medicine  as  his  profession,  but 
devoted  himself  with  particular  zeal  to  mathematics 
and  astronomy.  His  accurate  observation  of  the 
inclination  of  the  earth's  axis  to  the  orbit  was  taken 
by  later  master  astronomers  as  the  basis  of  their 
investigations.  As  he  had  acquired  a  knowledge  of 
Arabic,  he  was  able  to  translate  useful  scientific 
works  from  that  language  into  Hebrew.  His  wealth 
of  knowledge  was  not  employed  as  a  means  of 
/gratifying  his  vanity  or  ambition,  but  he  properly 
regarded  it  as  the  distinction  of  man,  enabling  him 
to  arrive  at  self-knowledge.  Jacob  Tibbon  main- 
tained that  in  the  happy  time  of  the  Jewish  people 
science  had  its  home  in  their  midst,  but  exile  and 
suffering  had  banished  it,  and  its  former  exponents 
now  had  to  become  students  in  order  to  learn  the 
results  arrived  at  by  foreign  nations.  In  his  scien- 
tific labors  Jacob  ben  Machir  had  a  very  noble  end 

CH.  1.  ABBA-MARl'S   EFFORTS.  31 

in  view.  He  aimed  at  elevating  his  co-religionists 
in  the  eyes  of  the  Christian  world,  and  silencing  the 
sneers  of  their  enemies,  who  tauntingly  said  that 
they  were  destitute  of  all  knowledge. 

This  man  was  now  asked  to  assist  in  banishing 
science  from  the  Jewish  world.  If  Abba-Mari  wished 
to  carry  out  in  Montpellier  his  scheme  of  holding 
the  Jewish  youth  aloof  from  the  study  of  the  sciences, 
he  was  bound  to  take  Jacob  ben  Machir  into  con- 
sideration. For  he  was  held  in  high  esteem  by  his 
congregation  on  account  of  his  many  excellent  traits 
and  his  meritorious  achievements,  and  had  the  great- 
est influence  with  the  members  entided  to  a  vote. 
Indeed,  he  was  the  first  to  whom  Abba-Mari  dis- 
closed the  project,  supported  by  the  Barcelona 
rabbinate,  against  the  study  of  the  profane  sciences, 
and  he  reckoned  upon  Jacob's  co-operation.  With 
impressive  decisiveness,  Profiat  not  only  refused 
participation,  but  pointed  out  the  sad  consequences 
of  so  serious  a  step,  and  importuned  him  to  omit 
the  public  reading  of  Ben  Adret's  letter.  Abba- 
Mari  and  his  ally,  Todros  of  Beaucaire,  nevertheless 
persisted  in  their  determination,  and  summoned  the 
members  of  the  congregation  to  an  important 
conference  in  the  synagogue  on  a  Sabbath 
(Elul- August,  1304).  It  was  immediately  apparent 
that  the  zealots  had  deceived  themselves,  or  had 
been  too  confident  in  their  assertion  that  the  Jews 
of  Montpellier  would  give  unanimous  consent  to  the 
interdict  to  be  laid  on  science.  A  portion  of  the 
congregation  even  abstained  from  taking  part  in 
the  deliberations,  and  Jacob  ben  Machir  raised  an 
emphatic  protest  against  the  proposed  enslaving 
of  the  intellect.  A  violent  discussion  ensued,  and 
the  meeting  dispersed  without  coming  to  a  resolu- 
tion. Soon  a  party,  consisting  of  advocates  of 
science,  and  of  friends,  adherents  and  parasites  of 
the  highly  esteemed  leader,  rallied  round  Jacob 
Machir,   the   most  distinguished  representative  of 


science.  The  obscurantists  and  the  simple-minded 
attached  themselves  to  Abba-Mari,  so  that  the  con- 
gregation became  a  prey  to  division  and  conflict. 
Each  party  endeavored  to  gain  supporters,  both 
within  and  without  the  community. 

It  became  a  point  of  honor  with  Abba-Mari  to 
bring  the  affair  to  a  conclusion  conformable  to  his 
own  views,  for  his  defeat  had  exposed  his  true 
position  to  Ben  Adret  and  the  Barcelona  congre- 
gation. After  the  unfavorable  issue  of  the  first 
deliberation  in  the  synagogue,  he  hardly  ventured 
to  answer  the  man  whom  he  had  assured  of  a  unani- 
mous adoption  of  his  proposal.  He,  therefore, 
worked  very  energetically  in  collecting  at  least 
twenty-five  signatures  of  members  of  the  congrega- 
tion, to  give  Ben  Adret  proof  that  he  did  not  stand 
alone  in  his  extreme  views. 

It  was  no  less  a  point  of  honor  with  Jacob  Tibbon 
not  to  allow  the  interdiction  of  science  to  come  into 
force.  For  he  and  the  Tibbonides  believed  that  the 
attacks  were  directed  chiefly  against  their  highly- 
venerated  ancestors,  Samuel  Ibn-Tibbon  and  Jacob 
Anatoli,  because  the  latter's  book  of  sermons 
(Maimed)  had  been  the  first  to  explain  away  Biblical 
tales  and  religious  laws,  and  at  that  time  was  used 
in  certain  quarters  for  Sabbath  devotions.  Ben 
Adret,  at  Abba-Mari's  instigation,  did,  indeed,  treat 
Anatoli,  the  favorite  of  the  Tibbonides,  with  scorn. 
Of  Samuel  Ibn-Tibbon,  the  translator  of  Maimuni's 
works,  and  propagator  of  his  theories,  the  austere 
bigots  had  not  a  good  word  to  say.  Judah  ben 
Moses,  his  great-grandson,  consequently  became  the 
soul  of  what  may  be  called  the  Tibbonide  party, 
which  agitated  against  Abba-Mari's  plan.  To  attract 
outsiders,  the  Tibbonides  gave  out  that  the  adver- 
saries of  science  once  more  had  in  view  the  denuncia- 
tion of  Maimuni  and  his  compositions  as  heretical,  and 
that  Abba-Mari  wanted  to  take  up  the  position  of 
Solomon  of  Montpellier.     This  was  a  very  happy 


party  manoeuvre ;  it  won  over  even  those  who  had 
shown  indifference  to  the  burning  topic  of  the  day, 
for  they  thought  themselves  in  duty  bound  to  take 
up  arms  on  behalf  of  Maimuni's  honor.  The 
Tibbonide  party,  thus  strengthened,  sent  a  trenchant 
and  pointed  letter  to  Ben  Adret  and  the  Barcelonians, 
to  ask  them  to  reconsider  their  decision.  It  is  true, 
they  were  not  able  to  offer  any  convincing  reasons 
for  the  admission  of  science  into  the  Jewish  curricu- 
lum ;  but  the  arguments  which  they  set  forth  in  its 
favor  were  considered  satisfactory  in  a  superficial 
age.  They  appealed  to  King  Solomon's  wisdom, 
"  from  the  cedar  of  Lebanon  to  the  hyssop  on  the 
wall,"  which,  they  said,  referred  to  nothing  but 
natural  science.  From  the  Talmud,  too,  reasons  were 
adduced  for  the  study  of  science.  They  would  not 
admit  the  validity  of  the  reply  that  it  was  not 
intended  to  interdict  research  generally,  only  to 
prohibit  immature  young  men  from  its  pursuit.  That, 
they  said,  was  an  evasion  of  the  main  point  at  issue. 
For  a  man  not  familiar  with  science  before  his 
thirtieth  year  was  permanently  incapable  of  engaging 
in  its  study,  and  in  advanced  age  could  never 
retrieve  the  loss.  The  Tibbonides,  moreover,  pro- 
tested that  they  were  branded  as  heretics,  because 
along  with  the  Torah  they  paid  homage  to  the 
profane  sciences.  They  did  not  recognize  the 
superiority  of  any  one  in  piety  and  orthodoxy. 
Lastly,  the  Tibbonides  exhorted  Ben  Adret  and  his 
college  to  bury  the  hatchet  of  denunciation  and 
discord.  The  spirited  and  defiant  tone  assumed  by 
Jacob  ben  Machir  and  his  adherents  greatly  pro- 
voked the  Barcelonians.  The  tension  increased. 
Bitter  and  caustic  letters  flew  hither  and  thither. 
Both  sides  labored  to  gain  new  adherents  in  other 
congregations,  and  to  draw  over  the  waverers.  The 
communities  of  Argentiere,  Aix,  Avignon  and  Liinel, 
through  their  representatives,  declared  in  favor  of 
Abba-Mari    and   his  followers.     In  Perpignan,  the 

34  HISTORY   OF    THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

chief  seat  of  the  much-assailed  enlightenment,  a 
relative  of  Abba-Mari  agitated  in  his  favor.  The 
latter  was  particularly  desirous  of  securing  the 
assistance  of  a  man  who,  by  reason  of  his  noble  birth 
and  highly  honorable  position,  had  powerful  influence 
in  Perpignan  and  elsewhere.  This  was  Kalonymos 
ben  Todros  of  Narbonne,  thought  to  be  a  descend- 
ant of  the  house  of  King  David.  Kalonymos  did 
not  at  first  appear  inclined  to  take  part  in  the 
proscription  of  science ;  but  Abba-Mari  from  the 
one  side  and  Ben  Adret  from  the  other  assailed  him 
with  such  pertinacity  that  at  length  he  promised  his 
consent  and  co-operation.  As  the  Tibbonide  party 
had  also  gained  new  adherents,  Ben  Adret  himself 
shrank  from  pushing  the  controversy  to  extremes, 
and  decided  not  to  issue  the  decree  of  excommuni- 
cation till  at  least  twenty  congregations  had  declared 
themselves  unequivocally  in  favor  of  it. 

Whilst  in  southern  France  and  Spain  the  balance 
was  inclining  now  to  one  side,  now  to  the  other,  in 
the  dispute  about  the  admission  of  scientific  studies 
into  Jewish  circles,  the  German  communities  were 
passing  through  a  series  of  the  most  deplorable 
events,  which  drove  to  Spain  a  man  who  spoke  the 
deciding  word  in  favor-of  the  excommunication  and 
proscription  of  free  inquiry.  He  was  of  high 
morality,  rare  disinterestedness,  of  pure  aspiration 
and  sincere  piety,  and  possessed  profound  Talmud- 
ical  learning,  but  was  filled  with  the  fanatical  hate 
of  his  countrymen  against  profane  knowledge.  The 
emigration  of  Asheri  or  Asher  from  Germany  to 
Spain  inaugurates  an  unhappy  period  for  the  Spanish 
and  Provencal  Jews  in  their  efforts  for  the  progress 
of  culture. 

Asher  ben  Yechiel  (born  about  1250,  died  1327) 
of  the  Rhine  district,  sprang  from  ancestors  who 
centered  their  whole  world  in  the  Talmud.  A  dis- 
ciple of  the  celebrated  Meir  of  Rothenburg,  Asher 
acquired   the   acute  Tossafist    method,   composed 

CH,  I.  ASHER    BEN   YECHIEL.  35 

Tossafist  works,  but  had  a  finer  sense  of  system 
and  order  than  this  school.  After  the  death  of  his 
master,  whose  corpse  the  unprincipled  emperor, 
Adolph  of  Nassau,  refused  to  give  up  for  burial  with- 
out remuneration,  Asheri  was  reckoned  among  the 
most  influential  rabbinical  authorities  of  Germany. 
A  paroxysm  of  persecutions  of  the  Jews  broke  out 
in  his  time,  far  worse  than  those  during  the  crusades ; 
it  robbed  thousands  of  innocent  men  of  their  lives, 
or  sentenced  them  to  a  lot  worse  than  death.  A 
civil  war  raged  at  that  time  in  Germany  between 
Adolph  of  Nassau  and  Albrecht  of  Austria,  who 
were  contending  for  the  empty  glitter  of  the  Ger- 
man crown.  This  strife  promised  impunity  for  auda- 
cious attacks  on  the  Jews,  who  were  proscribed  by 
the  church  and  society,  and  an  opportunity  was 
easily  found.  A  report  was  spread  that  the  Jews 
of  the  little  town  of  Rottingen  (in  Franconia)  had 
desecrated  a  sacramental  wafer  and  pounded  it  in  a 
mortar,  and  blood  was  said  to  have  flowed  from  it. 
A  nobleman  of  the  place,  named  Rindfleisch,  took 
up  the  cause  of  the  host  alleged  to  have  been  dese- 
crated, declared  that  he  had  received  a  mission  from 
heaven  to  root  out  the  accursed  race  of  Jews,  and 
gathered  a  credulous,  besotted  mob  around  him  to 
assist  in  his  bloody  intentions.  He  and  his  troops 
first  of  all  consigned  the  Jews  of  Rottingen  to  the 
flames  (7th  lyar — 20th  April,  1298).  From  this 
place  the  rabble  of  slaughterers,  under  Rindfleisch's 
leadership,  traveled  from  town  to  town,  always 
swelling  their  numbers  with  others  of  their  descrip- 
tion, and  destroyed  all  the  Jews  who  fell  into  their 
hands,  even  those  converted  to  Christianity.  Rind- 
fleisch, impelled  by  audacity  and  spurious  enthusi- 
asm, fairly  forced  the  inhabitants  of  various  towns 
to  ill-treat  their  Jewish  fellow-citizens  brutally.  The 
great  community  of  Wiirzburg  was  completely 
blotted  out  (i2thAb — 24th  July).  In  Nuremberg 
the  Jews  had  at  first  fled  for  refuge  into  the  fortress. 

36  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  1. 

but  being  attacked  there,  too,  they  took  to  arms, 
and  though  assisted  by  humane  Christians,  were 
overpowered  at  last,  and  all  butchered  (2 2d  Ab — 
I  St  August).  Asheri's  relative  and  fellow-student, 
Mordecai  ben  Hillel,  who  had  compiled  a  very  im- 
portant rabbinical  work,  fell  at  about  the  same  time, 
together  with  his  wife  and  five  children.  Many 
parents,  lest  their  children  from  fear  of  death  should 
renounce  their  faith,  threw  them  with  their  own 
hands  into  the  flames,  and  plunged  in  after  them. 
In  Bavaria  the  congregations  of  Ratisbon  and  Augs- 
burg were  the  only  ones  to  escape  the  slaughter. 
In  the  first  city,  where  they  had  the  right  of  citizen- 
ship from  time  immemorial,  the  .mayor  protected 
them  with  great  zeal.  In  Augsburg,  too,  the  mayor 
and  council  defended  them  against  the  destroyers, 
Rindfleisch  and  his  horde. 

This  bloody  persecution  spread  from  Franconia 
and  Bavaria  to  Austria,  swept  away  more  than  a 
hundred  and  forty  congregations  and  more  than 
100.000  Jews,  and  lasted  nearly  half  a  year.  The 
Jews  of  Germany  all  trembled,  and  were  prepared 
to  meet  destruction.  This  would  certainly  have 
come  if  the  civil  war  in  Germany  had  not  been 
brought  to  an  end  by  the  death  of  Emperor  Adolph, 
and  the  election  of  Albrecht.  The  second  Habs- 
burger  energetically  restored  the  country  to  a  state 
of  peace,  brought  to  book  the  perpetrators  of  the 
outrages  on  the  Jews,  and  imposed  fines  on  the 
towns  which  had  participated  in  them,  on  the  ground 
that  he  had  suffered  losses  in  his  purse  through  the 
immolation  of  his  "  servi  camerae  "  and  their  goods. 
The  majority  of  the  Jews  baptized  through  fear 
returned  to  Judaism,  apparently  with  the  connivance 
of  the  emperor  and  the  representatives  of  the  church. 
The  after-throes  of  this  massacre  were  likewise  bitter 
enough.  The  wives  of  those  who  had  perished  could 
not  authenticate  the  death  of  their  husbands  through 
Jewish  witnesses,  as  no  men  remained  alive  com- 


patent  to  give  testimony.  They  could  appeal  only 
to  the  statement  of  baptized  Jews,  whose  evidence 
was  considered  by  many  rabbis  to  be  invalid  accord- 
ing to  the  Talmudical  marriage  laws.  Asheri, 
however,  was  sensible  enough  to  unbend  from  this 
strictness,  and  allowed  the  widows  to  marry  again 
on  the  evidence  of  baptized  Jews  returned  to 

Asheri  did  not  feel  very  secure  in  Germany  after 
this  bloody  massacre,  or  perhaps  he  was  threatened 
with  danger  on  the  part  of  Emperor  Albrecht.  It 
was  said  that  the  emperor  demanded  of  him  the  sum 
of  money  which  the  Jews  were  to  pay  as  ransom 
for  the  imprisoned  Meir  of  Rothenburg,  for  which 
Asheri  had  become  security.  He  accordingly  left 
Germany  (summer  of  1303),  and  traveled  from  one 
country  to  another  with  his  wife,  his  eight  sons  and 
grandsons,  and  on  account  of  his  reputation,  he 
was  everywhere  treated  with  the  utmost  respect, 
especially  in  Montpellier,  even  before  the  breaking 
out  of  the  controversy.  He  finally  settled  in 
Toledo,  the  largest  city  of  Spain  (January,  1305). 
With  joy  the  illustrious  German  rabbi  was  installed 
by  the  Toledo  congregation  in  the  vacant  rabbi- 
nate. With  Asheri  the  dismal  spirit  of  over-piety, 
so  hostile  to  knowledge,  entered  into  the  Spanish 

iVsheri  did  not  conceal  his  antipathy  to  profane 
culture.  He  could  not  conceive  how  pious  Jews, 
in  southern  France  and  in  Spain,  could  occupy 
themselves  with  subjects  outside  of  the  Talmud. 
With  the  utmost  scorn  he  discountenanced  the  very 
aspiration  of  the  Spanish  and  Provengal  Jews  on 
which  they  prided  themselves.  He  thanked  his 
Creator  that  He  had  protected  him  from  the  baneful 
influence  of  science.  He  did  not  give  the  southern 
Frenchmen  and  the  Spanish  Jews  credit  for  thor- 
oughness even  in  knowledge  of  the  Talmud,  and 
maintained  that  the  German  and  northern  French 

38  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  I. 

Jews  alone  had  inherited  wisdom  from  the  time  of 
the  destruction  of  the  Temple.  A  man  like  this, 
incapable  of  appreciating  the  sciences,  and  harbor- 
ing enmity  to  everything  not  in  the  Talmud,  was 
bound  to  exercise  an  influence  prejudicial  to  knowl- 
edge. Next  to  him  Solomon  ben  Adret  himself 
appeared  more  or  less  of  a  freethinker.  Abba-Mari 
forthwith  availed  himself  of  the  man,  from  whom  he 
expected  effectual  support  for  his  party.  He  re- 
quested him  to  express  his  views  on  the  pending 
question.  Asheri,  of  course,  gave  Abba-Mari  his 
unqualified  approval,  but  was  of  opinion  that  he  did 
not  go  far  enough,  for  the  evil  would  not  be  eradi- 
cated, if  the  pursuit  of  the  sciences  were  allowed  at 
a  ripe  age.  The  poison  of  heresy  had  spread  too  far, 
every  one  was  infected  by  it,  and  the  pious  were 
open  to  the  reproach  that  they  shut  their  eyes  to  it. 
His  proposal  was  that  a  synod  should  be  convoked, 
and  a  resolution  be  taken  that  study  was  to  be  de- 
voted solely  to  the  Talmud,  while  the  sciences  were 
to  be  pursued  only  when  it  was  neither  day  nor 
night — that  is,  not  at  all.  This  exclusive  fidelity  to 
the  Talmud,  which  rejected  all  compromise,  advo- 
cated by  an  energetic  man  of  pure  character,  made 
an  overpowering  impression  on  the  unsettled  minds 
of  Spanish  Jews.  Ben  Adret  himself,  who  had 
hitherto  always  hesitated  to  lead  the  movement,  all 
at  once  declared  that  he  was  prepared  to  pronounce 
the  ban,  if  Abba-Mari  and  the  prince,  Kalonymos, 
would  prepare  it.  An  officious  zealot,  Samson  ben 
Meir,  disciple  of  Ben  Adret,  took  upon  himself  to 
collect  assenting  signatures  from  twenty  congrega- 
tions. Toledo  was  especially  reckoned  upon,  having 
been  swayed  by  Asheri's  mind,  and  next,  Castile 
generally,  which  as  a  rule  followed  the  guidance  of 
the  head  community. 

How  artificial  and  opposed  to  the  sentiment  of  the 
majority  this  zeal  was,  became  apparent  especially  in 
the  congregation  of  Montpellier,  styled  the  tower  of 


Zion  by  Abba-Mari's  party.  In  this  congregation 
the  zealots  did  not  venture  to  collect  signatures  for 
the  sentence  of  excommunication.  As  if  in  defiance, 
one  of  the  Tibbonides  announced  that  he  would  give 
a  reading  from  Anatoli's  book  of  sermons  on  a  cer- 
tain Sabbath,  and  immediately  drew  a  numerous 
audience.  Abba-Mari,  who  had  repeatedly  boasted 
to  Ben  Adret  of  his  mighty  influence,  and  had  per- 
suaded him  that  the  whole  congregation,  except  a 
few  deluded  people,  were  on  his  side,  now  had  to 
admit  that  Montpellier  was  not  to  be  reckoned  upon 
in  this  affair.  In  the  consciousness  that  their  party 
was  in  a  minority  in  southern  France,  the  two  lead- 
ers, Abba-Mari  and  Kalonymos,  of  Narbonne,  made 
the  ecclesiastical  ban  unexpectedly  mild,  both  as  to 
wording  and  contents.  First,  the  reading  of  works 
on  natural  science  and  of  metaphysical  books  only 
was  to  be  prohibited,  all  other  branches  of  learning 
being  expressly  allowed.  Secondly,  the  writings  of 
Jewish  authors,  even  those  dealing  with  natural 
science  or  metaphysics,  were  to  be  excluded  from 
the  inhibition.  Abba-Mari,  with  a  view  to  meeting 
his  adversaries  half-way,  had  made  the  proposal  to 
fix  the  period  when  the  study  of  every  department 
of  learning  was  to  be  allowed,  not  at  the  thirtieth, 
but  at  the  twenty-fifth  year  of  the  student's  age.  Ben 
Adret,  however,  who  could  not  tolerate  half-meas- 
ures nor  brook  retreat,  had  now  become  more 
severe.  He  who  formerly  had  to  be  driven  and 
urged  on,  now  became  the  propeller.  Asheri's 
influence  is  not  to  be  mistaken.  On  the  Sabbath  of 
Lamentation  in  commemoration  of  the  destruction 
of  Jerusalem,  he  and  his  colleagues  ordered  the 
anathema  against  the  study  of  the  sciences  to  be 
read  amid  solemn  ceremonies,  the  scroll  of  the  Law 
in  the  arms  of  the  reader  (4th  Ab — 26th  July,  1305). 
Whoever  read  any  scientific  book  before  the  twenty- 
fifth  year  of  his  age  was  liable  to  the  penalty  of 
excommunication.     The  ban  was  to  remain  in  force 

40  HISTORY    OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  I. 

for  half  a  century.  The  philosophical  expounders 
of  Holy  Writ  were  doomed  in  the  hereafter,  and 
in  this  world  subjected  to  excommunication,  and 
their  writings  condemned  to  be  burnt.  As  no 
exception  was  made  of  scientific  works  composed  in 
Hebrew,  according  to  the  formulation  of  the  ban, 
not  only  Anatoli's  book  of  sermons  was  exposed  to 
proscription,  but  also  Maimuni's  philosophical  writ- 
ings. Ben  Adret  and  his  college  allowed  only  the 
study  of  medicine,  on  the  ground  that  its  practice  is 
permitted  in  the  Talmud.  This  was  the  first  heresy- 
tribunal  in  Jewish  history,  and  Ben  Adret  was  at  its 
head.  The  Dominicans  had  found  docile  emulators 
among  the  Jews. 

According  to  the  communal  system  in  the  Middle 
Ages,  every  congregation  was  independent,  and  the 
resolutions  of  one  congregation  had  no  force  with 
another.  The  ban  accordingly  had  validity  only 
in  Barcelona,  unless  some  other  congregation  con- 
firmed it.  Ben  Adret,  however,  labored  to  have 
it  adopted  by  other  congregations.  The  sentence, 
signed  by  Ben  Adret,  his  two  sons,  and  more  than 
thirty  of  the  most  influential  members  of  the  Bar- 
celona congregation,  was  dispatched  to  the  congre- 
gations of  Spain,  Languedoc,  northern  France,  and 
Germany.  But  the  ban  was  not  so  readily  adopted 
as  the  authorities  of  Barcelona  had  flattered  them- 
selves it  would  be.  Jacob  ben  Machir  and  his  party 
had  already  received  notice  that  a  blow  was  being 
meditated  against  them,  and  accordingly  made  prep- 
arations for  a  countermove.  They  resolved  from 
the  first  to  frustrate  the  effect  of  the  ecclesiastical 
interdict  of  *the  study  of  science.  They  drew  up  a 
resolution  in  Montpellier  which  contained  three  im- 
portant points.  A  sentence  of  excommunication 
was  to  fall  upon  those  who,  out  of  religious  scruples, 
ventured  to  debar  or  withdraw  their  sons,  whatever 
their  youth,  from  the  study  of  any  science  whatso- 
ever,  regardless  of  the  language  in  which  it  was 

CH.  1.  THE   TIBBONIDE   BAN.  4I 

treated;  secondly,  upon  those  who  presumed  to 
utter  an  irreverent  or  abusive  word  against  the  great 
Maimuni,  and,  lastly,  also  upon  those  who  presumed 
to  denounce  a  religious  author  on  account  of  his 
philosophical  system.  The  last  point  was  intro- 
duced for  the  sake  of  Anatoli's  memory,  which  his 
opponents  had  vilified.  Thus  there  was  ban  against 
ban.  Jacob  Tibbon  and  his  friends  caused  their 
resolution  in  favor  of  science  and  its  advocates  to 
be  announced  in  the  synagogue,  and  the  great 
majority  of  the  congregation  of  Montpellier  took 
his  side.  Party  zeal,  however,  impelled  the  Tibbon- 
ides  to  take  an  ill-advised  step,  which  threatened  to 
produce  the  same  evil  consequences  as  had  ensued 
at  the  time  of  the  first  conflict  in  Montpellier  with 
the  obscurantists.  As  Jacob  ben  Machir  Profatius 
and  others  of  his  party  had  influence  with  the 
governor  of  the  city,  they  wished  to  secure  his  as- 
sistance in  the  event  of  their  opponents'  endeavor- 
ing violently  to  carry  the  Barcelona  interdict  into 
effect.  The  governor,  however,  explained  to  them 
that  he  was  interested  only  in  one  point:  that  the 
Jewish  youth  should  not  be  prevented  from  reading 
other  than  Talmudical  works.  He  should  strongly 
deprecate  any  attempt  to  discourage  the  study  of 
extra-Talmudical  literature,  because,  as  he  frankly 
expressed  himself,  he  would  not  consent  to  their 
being  deprived  through  fear  of  excommunication  of 
the  means  to  potential  conversion  to  Christianity. 
To  the  other  points  he  was  indifferent. 

Abba-Mari  and  his  party  were  now  in  despair 
on  account  of  the  activity  of  their  opponents.  As 
the  resolution  in  favor  of  the  unrestricted  study  of 
science  had  been  adopted  by  the  majority  of  the 
community,  according  to  rabbinical  law  it  was 
binding  on  the  minority  as  well,  and  therefore  on 
their  leader,  and  they  could  not  legally  stand  by 
the  interdict  of  Barcelona.  Thus  the  zealots,  the 
provokers  of  the  conflict,  had  their  hands  tied,  and 

42  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH,  I. 

were  caught  in  their  own  net.  They  did  what  they 
could  ;  they  protested  against  the  resolution  of  the 
Tibbonides,  and  advertised  their  protest  far  and  wide. 
But  they  could  not  conceal  that  they  had  suffered  a 
defeat,  and  were  obliged  to  consult  certain  author- 
ities as  to  whether  the  resolutions  of  the  Tibbonides 
were  binding  on  them.  Ben  Adret  was  thus  placed 
in  an  embarrassing  position.  The  party  of  Jacob 
ben  Machir  believed,  or  wished  to  have  it  believed, 
that  the  prohibition  of  the  rabbis  of  Barcelona  in 
reference  to  the  study  of  scientific  books,  was  meant 
to  apply  to  Maimuni's  works,  too.  They  obtained 
the  credit  of  having  taken  up  the  cudgels  in  behalf 
of  Maimuni's  honor,  and  of  contending  for  the  glory 
of  Judaism  ;  whilst  their  opponents,  Ben  Adret 
included,  through  their  narrow-mindedness  and 
obstinacy,  were  exposing  their  reh'gion  to  the  scorn 
of  educated  Christians.  The  vindicators  of  science 
seemed  to  be  continually  gaining  in  public  opinion. 
There  now  appeared  on  their  side  a  young  poet, 
whose  eloquent  defense,  written  in  a  highly  imagi- 
native style,  made  a  great  impression.  It  gives  a 
faithful  picture  of  the  feeling  and  excitement  which 
agitated  the  souls  of  the  champions  of  science,  and, 
therefore,  awakens  interest  even  in  the  present  day. 
In  a  modest  manner,  but  with  manly  spirit,  the  poet 
tells  Ben  Adret  truths  which  he  never  had  the 
opportunity  of  hearing  in  his  own  circle.  This 
young  poet,  more  famous  through  his  letter  than 
through  his  verses,  was  Yedaya  En-Bonet  ben 
Abraham,  better  known  under  the  name  of  Bedaresi 
(of  Beziers)  and  under  the  poetical  pseudonym  of 
Penini  (born  about  1280,  died  about  1340).  Yedaya 
Penini,  son  of  the  bombastic  pott,  Abraham  Bedaresi, 
had  more  talent  as  a  poet  than  his  father.  He 
possessed  a  lively  imagination  and  overflowing 
wealth  of  language,  and  lacked  only  restraining 
tact,  and  a  dignified,  universally  acceptable,  uplifting 
aim  for  poetry.     This  deficiency  gave  his  poems  the 

CH.  I,  YEDAYA    PENINI   (bEDARESI).  43 

appearance  of  empty  grandiloquence  and  artificiality. 
He  had  inherited  the  defect  of  his  father,  inability  to 
control  the  superabundance  of  words  by  the  law 
of  beauty.  He  was  too  ornate,  and  he  moralized, 
instead  of  elevating  and  impressing.  In  his  seven- 
teenth yearYedaya  Bedaresi  wrote  a  book  of  morals 
(Pardes),  and  in  his  earliest  years,  whilst  his  father 
was  still  alive,  he  composed  a  prayer  of  about  one 
hundred  verses,  in  which  all  the  words  begin  with 
the  same  letter  (Bekashoth  ha-Memin),  and  which 
his  father,  and  perhaps  his  contemporaries,  admired, 
but  which  is  nevertheless  very  insipid.  An  admirer 
of  Maimuni  and  Ibn  Ezra,  Bedaresi  considered 
science  and  philosophy  of  equal  importance  with 
Judaism,  or,  like  most  thoughtful  men  of  that  time, 
he  believed  that  the  one  contained  the  other. 

Bedaresi  conceived  that  his  deepest  convictions 
had  been  assailed  by  Ben  Adret's  anathema,  and 
that  it  had  in  reality  been  directed  against  Maimuni's 
name,  and,  therefore,  he  could  not  restrain  himself 
from  addressing  a  sharp  rebuke  to  the  excommuni- 
cators.  As  he  lived  in  Montpellier  and  was  certainly 
attached  to  Jacob  ben  Machir's  party,  it  is  quite 
probable  that  he  wrote  the  defense  of  Maimuni  and 
of  science,  sent  to  Ben  Adret,  at  their  instigation 
(December,  1305,  or  January,  1306).  This  missive, 
like  most  of  those  written  in  this  controversy,  was 
intended  not  only  for  the  individual  addressed,  but 
for  the  Jewish  reading  public  in  general.  After 
Bedaresi  had  expressed  his  respect  for  the  upright, 
learned  rabbi  of  Barcelona,  he  remarked  that  he 
and  his  friends  were  not  indignant  about  the  ban,  for 
science  was  invulnerable,  and  could  not  be  injured 
by  the  fulmination  of  excommunicators.  They  were 
only  hurt  that  Ben  Adret  should  brand  the  Jewish 
congregations  of  southern  France  as  heretics  and 
renegades,  and  expose  them  to  contempt  in  his  mes- 
sage to  many  congregations  and  countries.  Ben 
Adret,  he  continued,  had  allowed  himself  to  be  taken 


in  tow  by  Abba-Mari,  and  had  made  a  mountain  of  a 
mole-hill.  From  time  immemorial,  from  Saadiah's 
age,  science  was  not  only  tolerated  in  Judaism,  but 
cherished  and  fostered,  because  its  importance  in 
religious  knowledge  was  indisputable.  Moreover, 
the  denouncers  of  heresy  were  not  consistent ;  they 
excluded  the  science  of  medicine  from  the  ban, 
although  this  science,  like  every  other,  had  a  side 
which  was  in  conflict  with  religion.  How  could  they 
dare  impugn  the  writings  of  Maimuni,  whose  dazzling 
personality  outshone  all  his  great  predecessors?  At 
the  end,  Yedaya  Bedaresi  observed  that  violent 
faction  fights  had  broken  out  in  Montpellier.  Did 
they  wish  to  continue  to  foment  party  strife,  that  the 
absence  of  unity  among  the  Jews  might  occasion  the 
Christians  unholy  satisfaction?  "We  cannot  give 
up  science ;  it  is  as  the  breath  to  our  nostrils.  Even 
if  Joshua  would  appear  and  forbid  it,  we  could  not 
obey  him,  for  we  have  a  warranty,  who  outweighs 
you  all,  Maimuni,  who  has  recommended  it,  and 
impressed  it  upon  us.  We  are  ready  to  set  our 
goods,  our  children,  and  our  very  lives  at  stake  for 
it."  In  conclusion,  he  invited  Ben  Adret  to  advise 
his  friends  in  Montpellier  to  relinquish  heresy  hunt- 
ing, and  desist  from  stirring  the  fire  of  discord. 

At  the  same  time,  furious  disputes  broke  out  in 
the  church,  between  King  Philip  IV  of  France  and 
Pope  Boniface  VIII,  but  here  the  subject  of  the  dis- 
pute was  not  ideal  good,  not  science  and  free 
research,  but  purely  dominion,  power  and  mammon. 
There  was  war  to  the  knife  between  the  chiefs  of  the 
two  parties.  The  king  accused  the  pope  of  heresy, 
simony,  covetousness,  perjury,  and  impurity.  And 
the  pope  released  the  subjects  from  their  oath  to 
their  hereditary  king,  and  gave  away  his  empire. 
The  Jewish  hostilities  had  neither  the  same  wide 
range,  nor  yet  the  same  bottomless  wickedness, 

Ben  Adret  and  several  who  had  signed  the  decree 
of  excommunication,  Moses  Iskafat  Meles  and  Solo- 


mon  Gracian,  were  so  unpleasantly  affected  by 
Bedaresi's  letter,  and  feared  its  effect  so  much,  that 
they  hastened  to  offer  the  explanation  that  they  had 
in  no  wise  animadverted  upon  Maimuni's  writings, 
whom  they  revered  in  the  highest  degree.  They 
even  exhorted  Abba-Mari's  party  to  make  peace 
with  their  opponents,  to  vindicate  their  dignity 
before  their  common  enemy.  But  the  controversy 
was  now  at  a  stage  when  it  could  no  longer  be 
settled  peaceably.  The  mutual  bitterness  was  too 
violent,  and  had  become  too  personal.  Each  party 
claimed  to  be  in  the  right  from  its  own  standpoint; 
neither  could  consent  to  a  compromise  nor  make 
concessions.  Each  adhered  to  its  own  principles; 
the  one  sought  to  enforce  the  freedom  of  science, 
the  other  protested  that  Jewish  youth,  before  ma- 
turity, must  be  guarded  from  the  deleterious  poison 
of  knowledge.  Whilst  the  adherents  of  Abba-Mari 
were  seeking  legal  decisions  to  prove  the  ban  of 
their  opponents  unauthorized,  a  sad  event  happened, 
which,  like  a  whirlwind,  tore  friends  asunder,  and 
dashed  enemies  against  each  other. 



Philip  le  Bel — The  Jews  of  France  plundered  and  banished — Estori 
Parchi ;  Aaron  Cohen ;  Laments  of  Bedaresi — Eleazar  of 
Chinon,  the  Martyr — Return  of  the  Jews  to  France ;  their  Pre- 
carious Position — Progress  of  the  Controversy  regarding  the 
Study  of  Philosophy — Abba-Mari  and  Asheri — Death  of  Ben 
Adret — Rabbinical  Revival  in  Spain — Isaac  Israeli  II — Samuel 
and  the  Queen  Maria  Molina — Don  Juan  Emanuel  and  Judah 
Ibn-Wakar — The  Jews  of  Rome — Robert  of  Naples  and  the 
Jews — Peril  of  the  Jews  in  Rome — Kalonymos  ben  Kalonymos, 
his  Satires — Immanuel  and  Dante — The  Poet  Judah  Siciliano — 
Leone  Romano  and  King  Robert — Shemarya  Ikriti — Position 
of  Karaism — Aaron  the  Elder  and  the  Prayer-Book  of  the 

1306 — 1328  C.E. 

Philip  IV,  le  Bel,  at  that  time  the  king  of  France, 
one  of  those  monarchs  who  made  arrogant  and 
unprincipled  despotism  familiar  to  Europe,  suddenly 
issued  a  secret  order  (21st  January,  1306),  imposing 
the  strictest  silence,  to  the  higher  and  lower  officials 
throughout  his  kingdom,  to  put  all  the  Jews  of 
France  under  arrest  on  one  and  the  same  day,  with- 
out warning  of  any  kind.  Before  the  Jews  had  fully 
recovered  from  fasting  on  the  Day  of  Lamentation 
in  remembrance  of  the  destruction  of  Jerusalem,  and 
as  they  were  about  to  begin  their  daily  business, 
the  constables  and  jailors  appeared,  laid  hands  upon 
them,  and  dragged  young  and  old,  women  and 
children,  to  prison  (loth  Ab — 22d  July).  There 
they  were  told  that  they  had  to  quit  the  country 
within  the  space  of  a  month,  leaving  behind  both 
their  goods  and  the  debts  owing  to  them.  Whoever 
was  found  in  France  after  that  time  was  liable  to 
the  penalty  of  death.  What  could  have  induced 
this  prudent  rather  than  clerical  prince  so  suddenly 


to  change  his  sentiments  towards  the  Jews  ?  It  was 
certainly  not  clerical  intolerance,  nor  was  it  yielding 
to  the  will  of  the  people.  For  the  French,  even  in 
the  Middle  Ages,  were  not  bigoted,  and  it  was  not 
their  wish  to  remove  the  Jews  to  free  themselves 
from  usurers.  Avarice  was  the  first  motive  of  this 
cruel  order.  For  Philip's  feud  with  the  pope,  and 
his  war  with  the  rebellious  Flemish,  had  so  ex- 
hausted his  treasury,  and  had  rendered  necessary 
so  unsparing  an  extortion  of  money  that,  as  the 
ballads  of  the  time  scoffingly  said,  '*  The  fowl  in  the 
pot  was  not  secure  from  the  king's  grasp."  The 
king  wanted  to  replenish  his  coffers  from  the 
property  of  the  Jews.  Another  circumstance  is  said 
to  have  moved  him  to  this  hard-hearted  resolution. 
The  German  emperor  Albrecht,  who  at  that  time 
was  not  on  good  terms  with  Philip,  had  demanded 
the  surrender  of  the  kingdom  of  Aries ;  further, 
that  he  should  deliver  up  Jesus*  supposed  crown 
of  thorns,  and  lastly,  that  he  should  acknowledge  the 
authority  of  the  successor  of  Vespasian,  Titus,  and 
Charlemagne  over  the  French  Jews,  i.e.,  yield  to 
him  a  portion  of  the  hard-earned  property  of  the 
Jews.  Philip  is  said  to  have  consulted  his  lawyers, 
to  decide  to  whom  the  authority  over  the  Jews  ap- 
pertained, and  as  they  adjudged  it  to  the  German 
emperor,  the  idea  occurred  to  him  to  fleece  the  Jews 
of  their  property,  and  to  send  his  "  servi  camerae  " 
naked  and  bare  to  Albrecht.  Before  the  world  the 
king  covered  his  act  of  violence,  inhuman  as  it  was 
unstatesmanlike,  with  the  excuse  that  incredible  out- 
rages of  the  Jews  had  rendered  their  expulsion  im- 
perative. That  he  had  aimed  at  the  possessions  of 
the  Jews  was  shown  by  his  relentless  plundering. 
The  officials  left  the  unhappy  Jews  nothing  beyond 
the  clothes  they  wore,  and  to  everyone  not  more 
than  seemed  necessary  for  a  day's  living  (12  gros 
Tournois).  Wagonfuls  of  the  property  of  the  Jews, 
gold,  silver  and  precious  stones  were  transported  to 

48  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  11. 

the  king  ;  and  less  valuable  objects  were  sold  at  a 
ridiculously  low  price.  At  the  appointed  time 
(September,  1306),  they  were  banished,  about 
100,000  souls,  from  the  country  which  their  an- 
cestors had  inhabited,  in  part  at  the  time  of  the 
Roman  republic,  long  before  Christianity  had  spread 
into  France.  Some  who  could  not  separate  them- 
selves from  their  property  and  the  country  which 
they  loved  went  over  to  Christianity.  The  whole 
congregation  of  Toulouse  is  said  to  have  been 
guilty  of  this  cowardice,  which  scarcely  seems  cred- 
ible. The  celebrated  seats,  at  which  so  much  intel- 
lect had  been  displayed,  the  colleges  of  Rashi,  Tam, 
and  the  Tossafists  :  Troyes,  Paris,  Sens,  Chinon, 
Orleans ;  the  places  in  which  a  higher  culture  had 
had  its  temple  :  Beziers,  Liinel,  Montpellier,  whence 
the  combatants  forandagainstscience  were  plunged 
into  common  misery, — all  these  schools  and  syna- 
gogues were  sold  to  the  highest  bidder  or  given 
away.  A  German  or  an  English  king  might  have  de- 
stroyed the  holy  places  of  the  Jews — King  Philip  le 
Bel  made  a  present  of  a  synagogue  to  his — coach- 
man. An  approximate  idea  can  be  formed  of  the 
sums  which  the  expulsion  and  robbery  of  the  Jews 
brought  in  to  the  king,  if  it  is  kept  in  mind  that  the 
sale  of  the  Jewish  goods  in  the  house  of  the  prefect 
of  Orleans  alone  brought  in  337,000  francs. 

How  many  of  the  refugees,  reduced  to  beggary, 
fell  victims  to  the  hardships  of  their  journey  cannot 
be  known.  The  bitter  plaints  of  those  oppressed  by 
the  heavy  affliction  sound  mournful  and  touching 
even  at  this  distance  of  time.  Estori  Parchi,  then 
a  youth  of  many  accomplishments  and  noble  heart, 
a  relative  of  Jacob  ben  Machir,  whose  parents  had 
emigrated  from  Spain  to  southern  France,  thus 
describes  his  sorrow:  "From  the  house  of  study 
have  they  torn  me ;  naked  was  I  forced  as  a  young 
man  to  leave  my  ancestral  home,  and  wander  from 
land  to  land,  from  people  to  people,  whose  tongues 


were  strange  to  me."  Parchi  at  length  found  a 
resting-place  in  Palestine.  Another  fugitive,  the 
learned  Aaron  Cohen  of  Narbonne,  poured  forth 
this  elegy:  "Unhappy  me,  I  saw  the  misery  of  the 
banishment  of  the  sons  of  Jacob,  like  a  herd  of 
cattle  driven  asunder.  From  a  position  of  honor  I 
was  thrown  into  a  land  of  darkness."  The  sudden 
turn  of  fortune  which  changed  rich  men  into  beggars, 
and  exposed  the  delicate  and  those  used  to  the 
comforts  of  life  to  bitter  privation,  filled  the  bom- 
bastic poet  Yedaya  Bedaresi  with  gloomy  reflections. 
In  vivid  colors  he  painted  the  trouble  and  pain  of 
life,  and  man's  helplessness  and  nothingness.  His 
"Trial  of  the  World"  (Bechinath  Olam),  suggested 
by  personal  observation  and  bitter  experience,  con- 
sequently makes  a  depressing  and  mournful  im- 
pression, and  reflects  faithfully  the  melancholy 
feelings  of  the  ill-starred  race. 

The  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  France  by  the 
stony-hearted  Philip  le  Bel  did  not  come  off  without 
martyred  victims.  Those  who  transgressed  the 
time  of  grace,  yet  rejected  solicitations  to  abjure 
their  faith,  were  punished  by  death.  A  martyr  of 
this  time,  Eleazar  ben  Joseph  of  Chinon,  is  specially 
famous.  He  was  a  learned,  noble-minded  man,  a 
correspondent  of  Ben  Adret,  master  of  many  dis- 
tinguished disciples,  among  them  the  youthful  Parchi, 
one  of  the  last  of  the  Tossafist  school.  He  was 
condemned  to  the  stake,  although  no  crime  could 
be  laid  at  his  door  except  that  he  was  a  Jew.  With 
him  died  two  brothers.  The  expatriated  Jews  dis- 
persed in  all  parts  of  the  world ;  many  traveled  to 
Palestine.  But  the  majority  remained  as  near  as 
possible  to  the  French  borders,  in  Provence  proper, 
at  that  time  pardy  under  German  suzerainty,  in  the 
province  of  Roussillon,  which  belonged  to  the  Ara- 
gonian  king  of  Majorca,  and  in  that  island.  Their 
intention  was  to  wait  for  a  favorable  change  of 
fortune,  which  would  permit  them  to  return  to  the 

$0  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  II. 

land  of  their  birth.  They  had  not  speculated  falsely. 
King  Philip  himself  was  induced  by  avarice  to 
unbend  from  his  severity. 

The  vehement  struggle  in  Montpellier  about  per- 
mitting Jewish  youth  to  engage  in  the  study  of  the 
sciences,  remarkable  to  relate,  continued  after  the 
banishment  from  France  (September,  1306),  and  the 
mutual  hatred  of  the  two  parties  was  in  no  way 
abated  by  suffering.  A  portion  of  the  Tibbonide 
party  had  settled  in  Perpignan,  which  belonged  to 
the  king  of  Majorca,  who  was  no  favorer  of  the 
Jews.  At  his  command  copies  of  the  Talmud  were 
once  more  delivered  up  to  the  auto-da-fe ;  but  as  he 
hoped  to  gain  some  advantage  by  the  settlement 
of  intelligent,  industrious  Jews,  he  suffered  them. 
Abba-Mari  and  another  portion  of  the  congregation 
of  Montpellier  at  first  took  up  their  abode  in  the 
town  of  Aries,  but  as  he  could  not  stay  there,  he,  too, 
emigrated  to  Perpignan  (January,  1307).  But  the 
opposing  party,  which  had  influence  with  the  king 
or  governor,  endeavored  to  hinder  his  settlement  in 
that  place.  Abba-Mari's  partisans,  by  making  rep- 
resentations to  the  king,  succeeded  in  obtaining 
permission  for  him  to  live  in  Perpignan.  Here 
the  controversy  raged  anew.  Solomon  ben  Adret 
and  Asheri,  particularly  the  latter,  whose  decision  of 
character  had  acquired  for  him  the  chief  authority, 
again  interfered.  Asheri  declared  that  he  had  given 
his  signature  in  a  half-hearted  manner  to  the  decree 
prohibiting  young  men  from  occupying  themselves 
with  profane  studies ;  for,  according  to  his  opinion, 
it  was  too  great  a  concession  to  permit  it  at  the 
age  of  twenty-five.  Science  ought  to  be  prohibited 
altogether,  for  it  inevitably  lures  on  to  unbelief. 
The  defenders  of  science  were  to  be  condemned 
without  mercy,  since  the  afflictions  of  exile  had  made 
no  impression  on  them,  suffering  had  not  broken 
their  spirit  of  defiance,  and  had  not  chastened  their 
hardness  of  heart. 


This  view,  that  qualities  prejudicial  to  Judaism 
were  inherent  in  science,  gained  supremacy  after 
Ben  Adret's  death  (1310),  when  Asheri  was  ac- 
knowledged in  Spain  and  in  the  neighboring  coun- 
tries as  the  only  authority  in  religious  matters. 
Asheri,  his  sons  and  companions  who  had  migrated 
with  him  from  Germany,  transplanted  from  the 
Rhine  to  vivacious  Toledo  that  spirit  of  hon^est,  but 
tormenting,  narrow-minded  and  intolerant  piety; 
that  gloomy  disposition  which  regards  even  harmless 
joy  as  a  sin  ;  that  feeling  of  abjectness,  which  char- 
acterized the  German  Jews  of  the  Middle  Ages,  and 
they  inoculated  the  Spanish  Jews  with  it.  The  free 
activity  of  the  mind  was  checked.  Asheri  concen- 
trated ail  his  mental  power  on  the  Talmud  and  its 
exposition.  His  chief  work  was  a  compilation  of 
the  Talmud  for  practical  use  (1307 — 13 14).  On  all 
occasions  he  endeavored  to  enforce  a  difficult, 
painful,  and  severe  discipline.  If  any  one  desired 
to  express  his  thoughts  on  any  department  of 
knowledge  whatsoever,  he  had  to  array  his  subject 
in  the  garments  of  contrite  orthodoxy.  When  the 
erudite  Isaac  ben  Joseph  Israeli  II,  of  Toledo,  pub- 
lished an  astronomical  work  (13 10),  he  had  to 
adjust  it  to  Talmudical  standards,  and  introduce  it 
by  a  confession  of  faith,  for  only  in  this  manner 
could  he  find  grace  in  Asheri's  eyes. 

At  about  this  time,  during  Asheri's  rabbinate  in 
Toledo,  prominent  Jews  once  more  obtained  influence 
at  court.  King  Ferdinand  IV  (1295 — 1312)  had  a 
Jewish  treasurer  named  Samuel,  whose  counsels  he 
followed  in  political  matters  too.  The  dowager 
queen,  Maria  de  Molina,  who  had  held  the  reins  of 
government  during  her  son's  minority,  with  feminine 
passionateness  hated  the  favorite  Samuel,  who  is 
said  to  have  nourished  the  enmity  between  mother 
and  son.  One  day,  when  Samuel  was  in  Badajos, 
and  was  preparing  to  accompany  the  king  to  Seville, 
he  was  attacked  by  an  assassin,  and  so  severely 


wounded  that  he  was  left  for  dead.  It  is  not  known 
who  instigated  the  deed.  The  king  had  such  care 
and  attention  devoted  to  Samuel,  that  he  recovered 
from  his  wounds. 

Don  Ferdinand's  death  brought  in  its  train  a  time 
of  unquiet,  of  civil  war,  and  social  anarchy  for 
Spain.  As  the  Infante  Alfonso  was  still  a  child  in 
the  cradle,  several  persons,  the  clever  Maria  de 
Molina,  the  young  queen-mother  Constantia,  and 
the  uncles  of  the  young  king  contended  for  the 
guardianship  and  the  regency,  and  provoked  faction 
feuds  in  the  country  (131 2 — 1326).  Donna  Maria 
de  Molina,  who  conducted  the  government,  did  not 
extend  her  hate  against  her  son's  Jewish  counselor 
to  the  community  to  which  he  belonged.  As  in  the 
lifetime  of  her  husband  she  had  had  a  Jewish 
favorite,  Todros  Abulafia,  so  during  her  regency 
she  had  a  Jewish  treasurer,  Don  Moses.  When  the 
council  of  Zamora  (13 13)  renewed  canonical  laws 
hostile  to  the  Jews,  the  cortes  of  Burgos  demanded 
the  exclusion  of  Jews  from  all  honors  and  offices,  and 
the  pope  issued  a  bull  that  Christians  were  to  be 
absolved  from  their  debts  to  Jews  on  account  of 
usury,  the  wise  regent  submitted  only  in  part.  She 
ordered  that  Jews  should  not  bear  high-sounding 
Christian  names,  nor  enter  into  close  intercourse 
with  Christians  ;  but  she  most  emphatically  declared 
herself  against  the  unjust  abolition  of  debts,  and 
published  a  law  that  no  debtor  could  make  himself 
free  of  his  obligation  to  professors  of  the  Jewish 
faith  by  appealing  to  a  papal  bull. 

The  regency  of  Don  Juan  Emanuel  inaugurated 
an  improvement  in  the  condition  of  the  Castilian 
Jews  (13 19 — 1325).  The  regent  was  a  friend  of 
learning,  himself  an  author  and  poet,  and  was  con- 
sequently held  in  esteem  by  educated  Jews,  A  Jew 
of  Cordova,  Jehuda  ben  Isaac  Ibn-Wakar,  found 
high  favor  in  his  eyes,  and  probably  acted  as  his 
treasurer.     At  his  solicitation  Juan  Emanuel  once 

CH.  11.  RE-ADMISSION    OF  JEWS    INTO    FRANCE.  53 

more  invested  the  rabbinate  with  penal  jurisdiction, 
which  the  Jews  had  partly  lost  during  the  regency 
of  Maria  de  Molina,  and  had  practiced  only  pri- 

Jehuda  Ibn-Wakar,  however,  was  an  admirer  of 
Asheri,  and,  like  the  latter,  of  excessive  piety, 
desiring  to  have  every  religious  transgression  pun- 
ished with  the  utmost  severity.  When  a  Cordovan 
uttered  a  blasphemy  in  Arabic,  Ibn-Wakar  asked 
Asheri  what  was  to  be  done  with  him,  and  the  latter 
replied  that  his  tongue  should  be  cut  out.  A  beauti- 
ful Jewess  having  had  intercourse  with  a  Christian, 
Don  Juan  Manuel  resigned  her  to  the  punishment 
of  the  Jewish  court,  and  Jehuda  Ibn-Wakar  con- 
demned her  to  have  her  face  disfigured  by  the 
removal  of  her  nose,  and  Asheri  confirmed  the 

The  southern  Spanish  and  Castilian  congregations 
still  lived  in  peace,  and  in  the  undisturbed  posses- 
sion of  their  goods  ;  on  the  other  hand,  the  northern 
Spanish,  and  still  more  the  southern  French  congre- 
gations were  exposed  to  bloody  attacks  by  fanatical 
hordes,  which  the  church  had  unfettered,  and  then 
could  not  restrain.  Jews  once  more  lived  in  France. 
Louis  X  had  recalled  them  nine  years  after  their 
banishment  (13 15).  This  king,  himself  seized  by  a 
desire  to  abrogate  the  ordinances  of  his  father  and 
indict  his  counselors,  had  been  solicited  by  the  people 
and  the  nobility,  who  could  not  do  without  the  Jews, 
to  re-admit  them  into  France.  He  accordingly 
entered  into  negotiations  with  them  in  reference  to 
their  return.  But  the  Jews  did  not  accept  his  pro- 
posal without  deliberation,  for  they  well  knew  the 
inconstancy  of  the  French  kings,  and  the  fanatical 
hatred  of  the  clergy  against  them.  They  hesitated 
at  first,  and  then  submitted  their  conditions.  These 
were,  that  they  be  allowed  to  reside  in  the  same 
places  as  before ;  that  they  should  not  be  indictable 
for  former   transgressions;  that  their   synagogues, 

54  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  II. 

churchyards,  and  books  be  restored  to  them,  or  sites 
be  granted  for  new  places  of  worship.  They  were 
to  have  the  right  of  collecting  the  money  owing  to 
them,  of  which  two-thirds  should  belong  to  the  king. 
Their  former  privileges,  as  far  as  they  were  still  in 
force,  were  to  be  again  extended  to  them,  or  new 
ones  conceded.  King  Louis  accepted  all  these 
conditions,  and  granted  them  also  the  right  of  emi- 
gration under  certain  restrictions.  In  order  to  con- 
ciliate the  clergy,  he,  on  his  side,  imposed  the  condi- 
tions that  they  wear  a  badge  of  a  certain  size  and 
color,  and  hold  neither  public  nor  private  disputa- 
tions on  religion.  Two  high  officials  (prud'hommes, 
auditeurs  des  Juifs)  were  appointed  to  superintend 
the  re-settlement  of  the  Jews.  Their  residence  in 
France  was  fixed  for  twelve  years ;  if  the  king  should 
resolve  to  expel  them  again  after  the  expiration  of 
that  period,  he  put  himself  under  the  obligation  to 
give  them  a  year's  warning  that  they  might  have 
time  to  make  their  preparations.  The  king  pub- 
lished this  decree,  declaring  that  his  father  had  been 
ill-advised  to  banish  the  Jews.  As  the  voice  of  the 
people  solicited  their  return,  as  the  church  desired 
a  tolerant  policy,  and  as  the  sainted  Louis  had  set 
him  the  precedent  of  first  banishing  and  then  re- 
admitting them,  he  had,  after  due  consultation  with 
the  prelates,  the  barons,  and  his  high  council,  per- 
mitted the  return  of  the  Jews.  The  French  Jews 
streamed  back  in  masses  to  their  former  dwelling- 
places,  regarding  this  event  as  a  miraculous  redemp- 
tion. When  Louis  X  died  a  year  after,  and  his 
brother  Philip  V,  the  Long,  ascended  the  throne,  he 
extended  their  privileges,  and  protected  them  espe- 
cially from  the  enmity  of  the  clergy ;  so  that  they 
and  their  books  could  be  seized  only  by  royal  offi- 
cers. But  they  were  not  free  from  vexation  by  the 
degenerate  clergy,  who  insisted  that  the  Jews  of 
Montpellier,  who  thought  they  could  venture  on 
certain  liberties,  should   re-affix  the  Jew-badge  on 


their  dress.  At  one  time  they  accused  the  Jews  of 
Liinel  with  having  pubHcly  outraged  the  image  of 
Christ  on  the  Purim  festival ;  at  another  time  they 
ordered  that  two  wagonfuls  of  copies  of  the  Talmud 
be  publicly  burned  in  Toulouse.  Such  occurrences, 
however,  were  mere  child's  play  compared  with  what 
they  had  to  endure  from  the  bigoted  multitude. 

Philip  V  had  the  idea,  repugnant  to  the  spirit  of 
the  time,  of  undertaking  a  crusade  to  wrest  the 
Holy  Land,  after  so  many  vain  attempts,  from  the 
hands  of  the  infidels.  This  enterprise  appeared  so 
foolish  to  the  discerning,  that  even  Pope  John  XXII, 
the  second  of  the  popes  that  resided  in  Avignon  in- 
stead of  at  Rome,  dissuaded  him  from  it.  Never- 
theless, the  fancy,  as  soon  as  it  was  known,  inflamed 
the  minds  of  the  rude  populace.  A  young  man  of 
excited  imagination  gave  out  that  a  dove  had  settled 
at  one  time  on  his  head,  at  another,  on  his  shoulder, 
and  when  he  had  sought  to  seize  it,  it  had  trans- 
formed itself  into  a  beautiful  woman,  who  urged 
him  to  gather  a  troop  of  crusaders,  assuring  him  of 
victory.  His  utterances  found  credulous  hearers, 
and  the  lower  people,  children,  and  swine-herds 
attached  themselves  to  him.  A  wicked  priest  and 
an  unfrocked  Benedictine  monk  used  the  oppor- 
tunity to  force  their  way  to  the  front,  and  thus  arose 
in  northern  France  (1320)  a  numerous  horde  of 
forty  thousand  shepherds  (Pastoureaux,  Pastorelli, 
Roim),  who  moved  in  procession  from  town  to  town 
carrying  banners,  and  announced  their  intention  of 
journeying  across  the  sea  to  deliver  the  so-called 
holy  sepulcher.  Their  attention  was  immediately 
turned  to  the  Jews,  possibly  because  they  wanted  to 
raise  money  for  the  purchase  of  weapons  by  robbing 
the  Jews  of  their  possessions,  or  a  Jew,  as  is  related, 
had  made  sport  of  their  childish  heroism.  The 
massacre  of  the  Jews  by  the  shepherds  (Gesereth- 
ha-Roim)  is  another  bloody  page  in  Jewish  history. 

Nearly  all  the  crusading  enterprises   had  com- 


menced  with  the  murder  of  Jews;  so  this  time. 
The  shepherd-gangs  which  had  collected  near  the 
town  of  Agen  (on  the  Garonne)  cut  down  all  the 
Jews  they  met  on  their  march  from  this  place  to 
Toulouse,  if  they  refused  to  be  baptized.  About 
five  hundred  Jews  had  found  refuge  in  the  fortress 
of  Verdun  (on  the  Garonne),  the  commandant  hav- 
ing placed  a  strong  tower  at  their  disposal.  The 
shepherds  took  it  by  storm,  and  a  desperate  battle 
took  place.  As  the  Jews  had  no  hopes  of  rescue, 
they  had  recourse  in  their  despair  to  self-destruction. 
The  unhappy  people  selected  the  oldest  and  most 
respected  man  of  their  number  to  slay  them  one 
after  the  other.  The  old  man  picked  out  a  muscular 
young  assistant  in  this  ghastly  business,  and  both 
went  to  work  to  rid  their  fellow-sufferers  of  their 
miserable  lives.  When  at  last  the  young  man,  after 
slaying  his  aged  partner,  was  left  alone,  the  desire 
of  life  came  strong  upon  him ;  he  declared  to  the 
besieging  shepherds  that  he  was  ready  to  go  over 
to  them,  and  asked  to  be  baptized.  The  latter  were 
just  or  cruel  enough  to  refuse  the  request,  and  tore 
the  renegade  to  pieces.  The  Jewish  children  found 
in  the  tower  were  baptized  by  force.  The  governor 
of  Toulouse  zealously  espoused  the  cause  of  the 
Jews,  and  summoned  the  knights  to  take  the  ap- 
proaching shepherds  prisoners.  Thus  many  of  them 
were  brought  in  chains  to  the  capital,  and  thrown 
into  prison.  But  the  mob,  which  sympathized  with 
them,  banded  together,  and  set  them  at  liberty,  the 
result  being  that  the  greater  part  of  the  congrega- 
tion of  Toulouse  was  destroyed.  A  few  seceded  to 
Christianity.  On  the  capture  of  the  shepherds  near 
Toulouse,  the  Jews  in  the  neighborhood,  who  had 
been  granted  shelter  in  Castel-Narbonnais,  thought 
that  they  were  now  free  of  all  danger,  and  left  their 
place  of  refuge.  They  were  surprised  by  the  rabble, 
and  annihilated.  Thus  perished  almost  all  the  Jews 
in  the  neighborhood  of  Bordeaux,  Gascogne,  Tou- 

CH.  II.         CALUMNIES  OF  THE  "  LEPERS.  $f 

louse,  Albi,  and  other  towns  of  southern  France. 
Altogether,  more  than  120  Jewish  congregations  in 
France  and  northern  Spain  were  blotted  out  through 
the  rising  of  the  Shepherds,  and  the  survivors  were 
so  impoverished  by  spoliation  that  they  were  de- 
pendent upon  the  succor  of  their  brethren  in  other 
parts,  which  flowed  to  them  in  abundance  even  from 

The  following  year,  too,  was  very  unfortunate  for 
the  Jews,  the  trouble  again  beginning  in  France. 
This  persecution  was  occasioned  by  lepers,  from 
whom  it  has  its  name  (Gesereth  Mezoraim).  The 
unhappy  people  afflicted  by  leprosy  in  the  Middle 
Ages  were  banished  from  society,  declared  dead  as 
citizens,  shut  up  in  unhealthy  quarters,  and  there 
tended  after  a  fashion.  Once,  when  certain  lepers 
in  the  province  of  Guienne  had  been  badly  provided 
with  food,  they  conceived  and  carried  into  effect  the 
plan  of  poisoning  the  wells  and  rivers,  through 
which  many  people  perished  (132 1).  When  the 
matter  was  traced  back  to  the  lepers,  and  they  were 
examined  under  torture,  one  of  them  invented,  or 
somebody  suggested  to  him,  the  lying  accusation 
that  the  Jews  had  inspired  them  with  the  plan  of 
poisoning  the  waters.  The  charge  was  generally 
believed;  even  King  Philip  V  had  no  doubt  about 
it.  Sometimes  it  was  asserted  that  the  Jews  wanted 
to  take  revenge  for  the  sufferings  experienced  at 
the  hands  of  the  Shepherds  the  year  before  ;  again, 
that  they  had  been  persuaded  by  the  Mahometan 
king  of  Granada  to  cause  the  Christians  to  be 
poisoned ;  or  it  was  suggested  that  they  had  done 
it  in  league  with  the  Mahometan  ruler  of  Palestine, 
to  frustrate  the  intended  crusade  of  King  Philip. 
In  several  places  Jews  were  arrested  on  this  accusa- 
tion, unmercifully  tortured,  and  some  of  them  burnt 
(Tammuz — July,  1321).  In  Chinon  a  deep  pit  was 
dug,  fire  kindled  in  it,  and  eight  Jewish  men  and 
women   thrown   in,   who   sang  whilst  dying.     The 


mothers  had  previously  cast  in  their  children,  to 
save  them  from  forcible  baptism.  Altogether  five 
thousand  are  said  to  have  suffered  death  by  fire  in 
that  year.  Many  were  banished  from  France,  and 
robbed  by  the  heartless  populace.  Philip  was  con- 
vinced later  on  of  the  untruth  of  the  accusation; 
but  as  the  Jews  had  been  accused,  he  seemed  to 
think  that  the  opportunity  might  be  used  to  swell 
the  treasury.  Accordingly,  the  congregations  were 
condemned  by  Parliament  to  a  penalty  of  one 
hundred  and  fifty  thousand  pounds  (Parisian) ;  they 
were  to  apportion  the  contributions  among  them- 
selves. Deputies  (procureurs)  from  northern  France 
(de  la  langue  frangaise)  and  from  Languedoc,  met 
and  enacted  that  the  southern  French  Jews,  deci- 
mated and  impoverished  by  the  previous  year's 
massacre,  were  to  contribute  forty-seven  thousand 
pounds,  and  the  remainder  was  to  be  borne  by  the 
northern  French  Jews.  The  wealthiest  Jews  were 
put  under  arrest  as  security  for  the  payment  of  the 
fine,  and  their  goods  and  debts  distrained. 

In  the  same  year  a  great  danger  threatened  the 
oldest  of  the  European  communities.  Misfortune 
came  upon  it  the  more  unexpectedly  as  till  then  it 
had  tasted  but  little  of  the  cup  of  misery  which  the 
Jews  of  England,  France  and  Spain  so  often  had  to 
drink  to  the  dregs.  It  was  because  Rome  did  not 
belong  to  the  pope,  but  to  the  families  of  Orsini 
and  Colonna,  to  the  Ghibellines  and  Guelphs — the 
great  and  minor  lords,  who  fought  out  their  party 
feuds  in  that  city — that  the  Jews  were  left  untouched 
by  papal  tyranny.  It  was  well  for  them  that  they 
were  little  considered. 

At  about  this  time  the  Roman  Jews  had  made  an 
advance  in  material  welfare  and  intellectual  culture. 
There  were  some  who  possessed  houses  like  palaces, 
furnished  with  all  the  comforts  of  life.  Since  the 
time  when,  through  the  concurrence  of  favorable 
circumstances,  they  had  tasted  of  the  tree  of  knowl- 

CH.  II.  THE  JEWS   OF  ROMK  59 

edge,  learning  and  poetry  were  cherished  by  the 
Italian  Jews.  The  seeds  which  Hillel  of  Verona, 
Serachya  ben  Shaltiel  and  others  had  scattered, 
commenced  to  bear  fruit.  When  the  flower  of 
intellectual  glory  in  southern  France  began  to  decay 
through  the  severity  of  Talmudical  rigorists  and  the 
bloody  persecutions,  it  unfolded  itself  in  Italy, 
especially  in  Rome.  At  that  time  the  first  rays  of  a 
new  cultural  development,  breaking  through  the 
gloom  of  priestcraft  and  the  rude  violence  of  the 
Middle  Ages,  appeared  in  Italy.  A  fresh  current  of 
air  swept  the  heavens  in  Italy  in  the  beginning  of  the 
fourteenth  century,  the  epoch  of  Dante,  thawing  the 
icy  coat  of  the  church  and  of  knightdom,  the  two  pil- 
lars of  the  Middle  Ages.  A  sense  of  citizenship,  the 
impulse  towards  liberty,  enthusiastic  love  for  science, 
were  the  striking  symptoms  of  a  new  spirit,  of  a  striv- 
ing for  rejuvenescence,  which  only  the  emperor,  the 
embodiment  of  rude,  ungainly  knighthood,  and  the 
pope,  the  incarnation  of  the  stern,  unbending  church, 
failed  to  perceive.  Every  greater  or  lesser  Italian 
lord  made  it  a  point  of  honor  to  encourage  art  and 
science,  and  patronize  poets,  artists  and  learned 
men  at  his  court.  Nor  were  the  Jews  overlooked 
at  this  juncture.  One  of  the  most  powerful  Italian 
princes,  Robert  of  Anjou,  king  of  Naples,  count  of 
Provence  (Arelat),  vicar-general  of  the  Papal  States 
and  for  some  time  titular  lieutenant  of  the  Holy 
Roman  empire,  was  a  friend  of  science,  a  warm 
admirer  also  of  Jew'sh  literature,  and  consequently 
a  protector  of  the  Jews.  Several  Jewish  litterateurs 
were  his  teachers,  or  at  his  instance  undertook 
scientific  and  theological  works. 

Either  in  imitation  of  the  current  practice  or  from 
sincere  interest  in  Jewish  literature,  rich  Jews,  who 
played  the  part  of  small  princes,  invited  Jewish 
authors  into  their  circle,  lightened  their  material 
cares  by  liberal  support,  and  stimulated  their  activity 
by  encouragement.    Thus  it  came  to  pass  that  three 

60  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  11. 

Jewish  Italian  men  of  letters  had  the  courage  to 
compete  with  the  Spaniards  and  Provencals.  These 
were  Leo  Romano,  Judah  Siciliano,  and  above  all 
the  poet  Immanuel  Romi,  who  once  more  ennobled 
neo-Hebrew  poetry,  and  raised  it  to  a  higher  level. 
The  Roman  congregation  at  that  time  displayed 
exceptional  interest  in  Jewish  writings.  OfMaimuni, 
the  embodiment  of  science  for  them  as  for  the  rest 
of  the  Jewish  world,  they  possessed  the  copious 
Religious  Codex,  and  the  translation  of  his  "Guide;" 
but  of  his  luminous  Mishna  commentary,  composed 
originally  in  Arabic,  only  those  parts  which  Charisi 
and  Samuel  Ibn-Tibbon  had  done  into  Hebrew. 
The  representatives  of  the  Roman  congregations,  to 
whom  probably  the  poet  Immanuel  also  belonged, 
wished  to  have  a  complete  edition  of  the  work,  and 
sent  a  messenger  to  Barcelona  to  Ben  Adret 
expressly  for  the  purpose  of  procuring  the  remain- 
ing parts.  The  affair  was  not  so  simple  as  the 
Roman  Jews  had  imagined.  The  greater  portion  of 
the  anxiously  desired  commentary  of  Maimuni  on 
the  Mishna,  on  account  of  peculiar  difficulties,  was 
not  yet  rendered  into  Hebrew.  The  greatest  obstacle 
was  the  circumstance  that  the  Spanish  Jews,  except 
those  in  Toledo  and  in  the  neigborhood  of  the  king- 
dom of  Granada,  had  forgotten  Arabic.  Ben  Adret, 
who  wished  to  oblige  the  Roman  congregation, 
endeavored  to  get  the  required  portions  translated 
into  Hebrew.  He  encouraged  scholars,  learned  both 
in  Arabic  and  the  Talrhud,  to  undertake  this  difficult 
task,  and  Joseph  Ibn-Alfual  and  Jacob  Abbassi  of 
Huesca,  Solomon  ben  Jacob  and  Nathaniel  Ibn- 
Almali,  the  last  two  physicians  of  Saragossa,  and 
others  divided  the  labor  among  themselves.  Jewish 
literature  is  indebted  for  the  possession  of  this  most 
valuable  work  of  Maimuni  to  the  zeal  of  the  Roman 
congregation,  of  Ben  Adret,  and  these  translators. 
The  Roman  community  was  roused  from  Its  peace- 
ful occupations  and  undisturbed  quiet  by  a  rough 


hand,  and  awakened  to  the  consciousness  that  it 
existed  under  the  scourge  of  priestcraft  and  the 
caprice  of  its  rulers. 

It  is  related  that  a  sister  of  the  pope  (John  XXII), 
named  Sangisa,  had  repeatedly  exhorted  her  brother 
to  expel  the  Jews  from  the  holy  city  of  Christendom. 
Her  solicitations  had  always  been  fruitless;  she 
therefore  instigated  several  priests  to  give  testimony 
that  the  Jews  had  ridiculed  by  words  and  actions  a 
crucifix  which  was  carried  through  the  streets  in  a  pro- 
cession. The  pope  thereupon  issued  the  command  to 
banish  all  the  Jews  from  Roman  territory.  All  that 
is  certain  is  that  the  Jews  of  Rome  were  in  great 
danger  during  that  year,  for  they  instituted  an  extra- 
ordinary fast,  and  directed  fervent  prayers  to  heaven 
(21  Sivan — 18  June,  1321),  nor  did  they  fail  to  em- 
ploy worldly  means.  They  sent  an  astute  mes- 
senger to  Avignon  to  the  papal  court  and  to  King 
Robert  of  Naples,  the  patron  of  the  Jews,  who  hap- 
pened to  be  in  that  city  on  state  affairs.  The  mes- 
senger succeeded,  through  the  mediation  of  King 
Robert,  in  proving  the  innocence  of  the  Roman  Jews 
in  regard  to  the  alleged  insulting  of  the  cross  and  the 
other  transgressions  laid  to  their  charge.  The  twenty 
thousand  ducats,  which  the  Roman  community  is 
said  to  have  presented  to  the  sister  of  the  pope, 
silenced  the  last  objections.  The  Jews  of  Rome 
entered  their  school  of  trouble  later  than  the  Jews 
of  other  countries.  For  that  reason  it  lasted  the 

Whilst  King  Robert  was  residing  in  southern 
France,  he  seems  to  have  made  the  acquaintance  of 
a  learned,  genial  Jewish  satirist,  Kalonymos  ben 
Kalonymos,  and  to  have  taken  him  into  his  service. 
This  talented  man  (born  1287,  died  before  1337) 
possessed  solid  knowledge,  was  familiar  with  the 
Arabic  language  and  literature  (which  was  very  re- 
markable in  a  Provencal),  and  in  his  youth  (1307- 
131 7)  translated  medical,  astronomical,  and  philo- 


sophical  writings  from  that  language  into  Hebrew. 
Kalonymos  ben  Kalonymos  was  not  merely  a  hewer 
of  wood  and  drawer  of  water,  an  interpreter  in  the 
realm  of  science  ;  he  had  intellect  enough  to  make 
independent  observations.  Disregarding  the  prov- 
ince of  metaphysical  speculation,  he  was  more  inter- 
ested in  pure  ethics,  which  he  especially  wished  to 
inculcate  in  his  co-religionists,  "  because  neglect  and 
ignorance  of  it  leads  men  to  all  kinds  of  perversities 
and  mutual  harm."  He  did  not  treat  the  subject  in 
a  dry,  uninteresting  style,  but  sought  to  clothe  it  in 
attractive  garments.  With  this  end  in  view,  Kalony- 
mos adapted  a  part  of  the  Arabic  encyclopedia  of 
science  (which  was  in  circulation  under  the  name  of 
"  Treatises  of  the  Righteous  Brethren  ")  for  a  dia- 
logue between  man  and  beasts,  giving  the  theme  a 
Jewish  coloring. 

In  another  work,  "Touchstone"  (composed  at  the 
end  of  1322),  Kalonymos  ben  Kalonymos  held  up  a 
mirror  for  his  Jewish  contemporaries,  in  which  they 
could  recognize  their  perversities,  follies,  and  sins. 
To  avoid  giving  himself  the  appearance  of  an  irre- 
proachable censor  of  morals,  he  enumerated  his  own 
sins,  more  in  satire  than  as  a  confession.  Kalony- 
mos whimsically  satirized  even  Judaism.  He  wished 
he  had  been  born  a  woman,  for  then  he  w^ould  not 
have  had  to  bear  the  burden  of  six  hundred  and 
thirteen  religious  laws,  besides  so  many  Talmudical 
restrictions  and  rigorous  ordinances,  which  could 
not  possibly  be  fulfilled,  even  when  a  man  tried  with 
the  most  exacting  conscientiousness.  As  a  woman, 
he  would  not  have  to  trouble  himself  with  so  much 
reading,  to  study  the  Bible,  the  Talmud,  and  the 
subjects  belonging  to  it,  nor  torment  himself  with 
logic,  mathematics,  physics,  astronomy,  and  phi- 
losophy. By  ind  by  Kalonymos'  satire  grew 
deeply  serious.  The  degradation  of  his  Jewish  co- 
religionists, and  the  bloody  persecutions  occasioned 
by  the  Shepherds  and  the  lepers,  dispelled  his  mock- 


ing  humor,  and  satire  was  changed  into  lamentation. 
In  Rome,  which  King  Robert  assigned  to  him  as  a 
place  of  residence,  Kalonymos,  having  been  fur- 
nished with  letters  of  recommendation,  obtained 
entry  into  a  joyous,  vivacious,  imaginative  circle  of 
men,  by  whom  he  was  stimulated  to  write  a  peculiar 
parody.  He  composed  a  treatise  for  the  Jewish 
carnival  (Purim),  in  which  he  imitated  the  tenor  and 
spirit  of  the  Talmud,  its  method,  controversies,  and 
digressions,  with  considerable  wit.  It  is  a  fine 
parody,  exciting  laughter  at  every  step,  and  one  can 
not  tell  whether  it  was  intended  as  a  harmless  car- 
nival joke  or  as  a  satire  on  the  Talmud.  Kalony- 
mos occupied  a  position  of  importance  in  the  Roman 
congregation.  Handsome  in  form,  of  abundant 
accomplishments,  solid  character,  all  his  excellencies 
enhanced  by  the  good  opinion  of  King  Robert  of 
Naples,  he  was  everyone's  favorite.  The  Italian 
Jews  were  proud  of  him.  But  Kalonymos  was  not 
a  true  poet,  still  less  an  artist. 

Much  more  gifted,  profound,  and  imaginative  was 
his  older  friend  and  admirer,  Immanuel  ben  Solo- 
mon Romi  (born  about  1265,  died  about  1330).  He 
was  an  anomaly  in  the  Jewish  society  of  the  Middle 
Ages.  He  belonged  to  that  species  of  authors 
whose  writings  are  all  the  more  attractive  because 
not  very  decent.  Of  overflowing  wit,  extravagant 
humor,  and  caustic  satire,  he  is  always  able  to 
enchain  his  readers,  and  continually  to  provoke  their 
merriment.  Immanuel  may  be  called  the  Heine  of 
the  Jewish  Middle  Ages.  Immanuel  had  an  inex- 
haustible, ready  supply  of  brilliant  ideas.  And  all 
this  in  the  holy  language  of  the  Prophets  and  Psalm- 
ists. Granted  that  the  neo-Hebrew  poets  and 
thinkers,  the  grammarians  and  Talmudists,  had  lent 
flexibility  to  the  language,  but  none  of  Immanuel's 
predecessors  had  his  power  of  striking  from  it 
showers  of  sparkling  wit.  But  if,  on  the  one  side, 
he  developed  the  Hebrew  language  almost  into  a 


vehicle  for  brilliant  repartee,  on  the  other  side,  he 
robbed  it  of  its  sacred  character.  Immanuel  trans- 
formed the  chaste,  closely-veiled  maiden  muse  of 
Hebrew  poetry  into  a  lightly-clad  dancer,  who 
attracts  the  attention  of  passers-by.  He  allows 
his  muse  to  deal  with  the  most  frivolous  and 
indelicate  topics  without  the  slightest  concealment 
or  shame.  His  collection  of  songs  and  novels  tends 
to  exert  a  very  pernicious  and  poisonous  effect  upon 
hot-blooded  youth.  But  Immanuel  was  not  the 
hardened  sinner,  as  he  describes  himself,  who  thought 
of  nothing  but  to  carry  on  amours,  seduce  the  fair, 
and  deride  the  ugly.  He  sinned  only  with  the 
tongue  and  the  pen,  scarcely  with  the  heart  and  the 

Though  he  often  indulges  in  unmeasured  self- 
laudation,  this  simple  description  of  his  moral  con- 
duct must  still  be  credited:  "I  never  bear  my 
enemies  malice,  I  remain  steadfast  and  true  to  my 
friends,  cherish  gratitude  towards  my  benefactors, 
have  a  sympathetic  heart,  am  not  ostentatious  with 
my  knowledge,  and  absorb  myself  in  science  and 
poetry,  whilst  my  companions  riot  in  sensual  enjoy- 
ments." Immanuel  belonged  to  those  who  are 
dominated  by  their  wit,  and  cannot  refrain  from 
telling  some  pointed  witticism,  even  if  their  dearest 
friends  are  its  victims,  and  the  holiest  things  are 
dragged  in  the  mire  by  it.  He  allowed  himself  to 
be  influenced  by  the  vivacity  of  the  Italians  and  the 
Europeanized  Jews,  and  put  no  curb  upon  his  tongue. 
What  is  remarkable  in  this  satirist  is  that  his  life, 
his  position,  and  occupation  seem  to  have  been  in 
contradiction  with  his  poetical  craft.  In  the  Roman 
community  he  filled  an  honorable  position,  was 
something  like  a  president,  at  all  events  a  man  of 
distinction.  He  appears  to  have  belonged  to  the 
medical  profession,  although  he  made  sport  of  the 
quackery  of  physicians.  In  short,  he  led  the  domes- 
tic life  of  his  time,  a  life   permeated  by   morality 

CH.  II. 


and  religion,  giving  no  opportunity  for  excess.  But 
his  honorable  life  did  not  prevent  him  from  singing 
riotous  songs,  and  from  writing  as  though  he  were 
unconscious  of  the  seriousness  of  religion,  of  respon- 
sibiHty  and  learning.  Immanuel  was  acquainted,  if 
not  on  intimate  terms,  with  the  greatest  poet  of  the 
Middle  Ages,  the  first  to  open  the  gates  of  a  new 
epoch,  and  to  prognosticate  the  unity  of  Italy  in 
poetic  phrase.  Probably  they  came  to  know  each 
other  on  one  of  Dante's  frequent  visits  to  Rome, 
either  as  ambassador  or  exile.  Although  their 
poetic  styles  are  as  opposite  as  the  poles — Dante's 
ethereal,  grave,  and  elevated  ;  Immanuel's  forcible, 
gay,  and  light — they,  nevertheless,  have  some  points 
of  contact.  Each  had  absorbed  the  culture  of  the 
past;  Dante  the  catholic,  scholastic,  and  romantic 
elements ;  Immanuel  the  biblical,  Talmudical,  Maim- 
unist,  philosophical,  and  neo-Hebraic  products. 
Both  elaborated  this  many-hued  material,  and 
molded  it  into  a  new  kind  of  poetry.  The  Italians 
at  that  time  were  full  of  the  impulse  of  life,  and 
Immanuel's  muse  is  inspired  by  the  witchery  of 
spring.  He  wrote  ably  in  Italian,  too,  of  which  a 
beautiful  poem,  still  extant,  gives  evidence.  Im- 
manuel was  the  first  to  adapt  Italian  numbers  to 
the  neo-Hebraic  lyre.  He  introduced  the  rhyme  in 
alternate  lines  (Terza  rima  in  sonnet  form),  by  which 
he  produced  a  musical  cadence.  His  poems  are 
not  equally  successful.  They  are  wanting  not  in 
imagination,  but  in  tenderness  and  grace.  His 
power  lies  in  poetical  prose  (Meliza),  where  he  can 
indulge  in  free  and  witty  allusions.  In  this  style  he 
composed  a  host  of  short  novels,  riddles,  letters, 
panegyrics,  and  epithalamia,  which,  by  clever  turns 
and  comic  situations,  extort  laughter  from  the  most 
serious-minded  readers. 

In  one  of  his  novels  he  introduces  a  quarrelsome 
grammarian  of  the  Hebrew  language,  a  verbal  critic 
who  takes  the  field  in  grammatical  campaigns,  and 


is  accompanied  by  a  marvelously  beautiful  woman. 
Immanuel  enters  into  a  hair-splitting  disputation 
that  he  may  have  the  opportunity  of  coquetting  with 
the  lovely  lady.  He  suffers  defeat  in  grammar,  but 
makes  a  conquest  in  love.  Immanuel's  description 
of  hell  and  paradise,  in  which  he  imitated  his  friend 
Dante,  is  full  of  fine  satire.  Whilst  the  Christian 
romantic  poet  shows  gravity  and  elevation  in  his 
poetical  creation,  represents  sinners  and  criminals, 
political  opponents  and  enemies  of  Italy,  cardinals 
and  popes,  as  being  tortured  in  hell,  metes  out,  as  it 
were,  the  severe  sentences  of  judgment  day  ;  his 
Jewish  friend,  Immanuel,  invents  scenes  in  heaven 
and  hell  for  the  purpose  of  giving  play  to  his  hu- 
morous fancy.  Dante  wrote  a  divine,  Immanuel  a 
human,  comedy.  He  introduces  his  pilgrimage  to 
heaven  and  hell  by  relating  that  he  once  felt  greatly 
oppressed  by  the  burden  of  his  sins,  and  experi- 
enced compunction ;  at  this  juncture  his  young 
friend  Daniel,  by  whose  untimely  death  he  had 
lately  been  deeply  affected,  appeared  to  him,  and 
offered  to  guide  him  through  the  dismal  portals  of 
hell  and  the  elysian  fields  of  the  blessed.  In  the 
chambers  of  hell  Immanuel  observes  all  the  wicked 
and  godless  of  the  Bible.  Aristotle,  too,  is  there, 
"because  he  taught  the  eternity  of  the  world,"  and 
Plato,  "because  he  asserted  the  reality  of  species" 
(Realism).  Most  of  all  he  scourges  his  contem- 
poraries in  this  poem.  He  inflicts  the  torment  of 
the  damned  upon  the  deriders  of  science ;  upon  a 
Talmudist  who  secretly  led  a  most  immoral  life  ; 
upon  men  who  committed  intellectual  thefts,  and 
upon  those  who  sought  to  usurp  all  the  honors  of 
the  synagogue,  the  one  to  have  his  seat  by  the  Ark 
of  the  Covenant,  the  other  to  read  the  prayers  on 
the  Day  of  Atonement.  Quack  doctors  are  also 
precipitated  into  hell,  because  they  take  advantage 
of  the  stupidity  and  credulity  of  the  multitude,  and 
bring  trusting  patients  to  a  premature  grave.     His 

CH.  11.  IMMANUEL   AND    DANTE.  6/ 

young,  beatified  guide  goes  widi  him  through  the 
gates  of  Paradise.  How  the  departed  spirits  rejoice 
at  the  poet's  approach !  They  call  out,  "  Now  is  the 
time  to  laugh,  for  Immanuel  has  arrived."  In  the 
description  of  paradise  and  its  inhabitants,  Immanuel 
affects  to  treat  his  theme  very  seriously ;  but  he 
titters  softly  within  the  very  gates  of  heaven.  Of 
course,  he  notices  the  holy  men,  the  patriarchs, 
the  pious  kings  and  heroes  of  the  Jewish  past,  the 
prophets  and  the  great  teachers,  the  poets,  Jehuda 
Halevi  and  Charisi,  the  Jewish  philosopher  Maimuni. 
But  next  to  King  David,  who  fingers  the  harp  and 
sings  psalms,  he  observes  the  harlot  Rahab  who 
concealed  the  spies  in  Jericho,  and  Tamar  who  sat 
at  the  cross-roads  waiting.  Dante  excludes  the 
heathen  world  from  paradise,  because  it  did  not  ac- 
knowledge Christ,  and  had  no  share  in  the  grace  of 
salvation.  Immanuel  sees  a  troop  of  the  blessed, 
whom  he  does  not  recognize,  and  asks  their  leader 
who  they  are.  "These  are,"  answers  the  latter, 
"righteous  and  moral  heathens,  who  attained  the 
height  of  wisdom,  and  recognized  the  only  God  as 
the  creator  of  the  world  and  the  bestower  of  grace." 
The  pious  authors,  David,  Solomon,  Isaiah,  Ezekiel, 
on  seeing  Immanuel,  darted  forward  to  meet  him ; 
each  one  thanks  him  for  having  expounded  his 
writings  so  well,  and  here  older  and  contemporary 
exegetists  come  in  for  their  share  of  Immanuel's  sly 

Neo-Hebraic  poetry,  which  began  with  Jose  ben 
Jose,  and  reached  its  zenith  in  Ibn-Gebirol  and 
Jehuda  Halevi,  attains  its  final  stage  of  development 
in  Immanuel.  The  gamut  had  now  been  run.  After 
Immanuel,  the  Hebrew  muse  became  silent  for  a 
long  time,  and  it  required  a  fresh  and  powerful 
stimulus  to  awaken  it  from  slumber  to  new  energy. 
Verses  were,  of  course,  written  after  his  days,  and 
rhymes  polished,  but  they  are  as  far  removed  from 
poetry  as  a  street-song  from  a  soul-stirring  melody. 


The  fate  of  Hebrew  poetry  is  illustrated  in  Im- 
manuel's  career.  For  a  long  period  he  was  popular, 
every  one  sought  his  friendship,  but  in  old  age  he 
fell  into  neglect  and  poverty.  His  own  statement 
is  that  his  generosity  dissipated  his  means.  He  was 
as  much  derided  as  he  had  formerly  been  praised. 
He  left  Rome  with  his  family,  traveled  about,  and 
found  repose  at  length  at  the  house  of  a  wealthy, 
influential  friend  of  art  (Benjamin?)  in  Fermo,  who 
interested  himself  in  him,  and  encouraged  him  to 
arrange  the  verses  and  poems  written  at  different 
periods  of  his  life  into  a  symmetrical  whole. 

The  praises  which  Immanuel  bestows  on  his  own 
productions,  and  his  boast  that  he  casts  the  old 
poets  into  the  shade,  certainly  tend  to  produce  a  bad 
impression.  Nevertheless,  like  every  expert  in  his 
profession,  he  was  far  removed  from  that  repulsive 
vanity  which  perceives  its  own  depreciation  in  the 
recognition  of  another.  To  true  merit  Immanuel 
gave  the  tribute  of  his  warmest  praise,  and  modestly 
conceded  precedence  to  it.  Not  only  did  he  extol 
the  highly  honored  Kalonymos,  basking  in  the  sun- 
shine of  the  king's  favor,  with  the  most  extravagant 
figures  of  speech,  but  he  praised  almost  more 
heartily  the  poet  Jehuda  Siciliano,  who  lived  in 
straitened  circumstances.  He  gave  him  the  palm 
for  poetical  verse,  maintaining  his  own  superiority 
in  poetical  prose.  But  for  Immanuel,  nothing  would 
have  been  known  of  this  poet.  Poor  Siciliano  had 
to  waste  his  power  in  occasional  poems  for  his 
subsistence,  and  was  thus  unable  to  produce  any 
lasting  work.  With  glowing  enthusiasm  Immanuel 
eulogizes  his  cousin,  the  young  and  learned  Leone 
Romano,  Jehuda  ben  Moses  ben  Daniel  (born  about 
1292),  whom  he  calls  the  "  Crown  of  Thought."  In 
paradise  he  allots  to  him  the  highest  place  of  honor. 
Leone  Romano  was  the  teacher  of  King  Robert  of 
Naples,  and  instructed  him  in  the  original  language 
of  the  Bible.     He  knew  the  language  of  learned 

CH.  II.  LEONE   ROMANO.  69 

Christendom,  and  was  probably  the  first  Jew  to  pay 
attention  to  scholastic  philosophy.  He  translated 
for  Jewish  readers  the  philosophical  compositions  of 
Albertus  Magnus,  Thomas  Aquinas,  and  others. 
Leone  Romano  composed  original  works  of  exegesis, 
set  forth  in  philosophical  method.  Greatly  as  his 
contemporaries  admired  his  learning  and  intellect, 
which  had  achieved  so  much  when  he  had  scarcely 
arrived  at  man's  estate,  he  exercised  no  influence 
whatever  on  posterity. 

The  Roman  society  which  promoted  science  and 
poetry  may  be  said  to  have  included  also  the  grand- 
son of  a  Roman  emigrant  who  took  up  his  abode  in 
Greece,  Shemarya  Ikriti  (Cretan)  of  Negroponte 
(flourished  1290 — 1320).  He  stood  in  close  rela- 
tion with  the  Roman  community  and  King  Robert. 
Familiar  with  Talmudical  literature,  as  he  probably 
was  rabbi  in  Negroponte,  he  devoted  himself  to 
philosophical  speculations,  and  was,  perhaps,  well 
read  in  the  Greek  philosophical  literature  in  its  origi- 
nal language.  In  his  youth,  Ikriti,  like  many  of  his 
contemporaries,  occupied  himself  with  translations 
of  philosophical  works.  Later  on  he  conceived  a 
plan  of  practical  utility,  in  which  he  thought  he  could 
turn  his  knowledge  to  account.  He  sought  to 
smooth  over  the  diflference  between  the  Rabbanites 
and  the  Karaites,  and  lastingly  to  reconcile  the  sects 
at  enmity  with  each  other  for  centuries,  "that  all 
Israel  may  once  more  be  united  in  one  fraternal 
bond."  Shemarya  of  Negroponte  was  the  first,  per- 
haps the  only  Rabbanite,  who,  if  he  did  not  extend  the 
hand  of  reconciliation  to  Karaism,  at  least  showed 
a  friendly  disposition  towards  it.  He  recognized 
that  both  parties  were  in  error ;  Karaism  was  wrong 
in  rejecting  Talmudical  traditions  unconditionally  ; 
but  the  Rabbanites  sinned  against  truth  in  placing 
the  Talmud  in  the  forefront,  and  overlooking  the 
Bible.  In  Greece  there  may  have  been  Karaites  at 
that  time  who  had  come  from  Constantinople.     To 


these  Shemarya  Ikriti  addressed  himself  to  incline 
their  minds  towards  union  with  the  mother  com- 

For  the  difficult  task  of  bringing  discordant  faiths 
into  harmony,  much  intelligence  and  energy  were 
required,  and  Shemarya  could  furnish  only  good 
will.  He  was  not  deficient  in  knowledge,  but  his 
mental  grasp  was  not  sufficiendy  powerful.  At 
the  instance  of  King  Robert,  who  interested  himself 
in  Jewish  literature,  he  wrote  a  commentary  on  the 
Bible,  and  forwarded  to  him,  with  a  dedication,  the 
books  first  completed  (1328).  It  read  as  follows: 
"To  our  noble  king  Robert,  adorned  like  King 
Solomon  with  the  crown  of  wisdom  and  the  diadem 
of  royalty,  I  send  this  exposition  of  the  cosmogony 
and  the  Song  of  Songs."  His  Biblical  commentaries 
were  set  forth  with  great  dififuseness,  covered  a  great 
range,  and  were  not  calculated  to  appeal  to  the 
Karaites,  and  draw  them  over  to  the  side  of  rabbini- 
cal Judaism.  His  attempt  at  reconciliation  mis- 
carried, perhaps  was  not  made  in  the  proper  spirit ; 
for  there  was  a  disposition  on  the  part  of  some 
Karaites  to  treat  his  overtures  favorably,  and  his 
efforts  would  not  have  failed,  if  they  had  been  con- 
ducted with  skill.  Nevertheless,  Ikriti  was  held  in 
such  esteem  in  his  time  that  the  Roman  congrega- 
tion took  an  interest  in  his  labors,  entered  into 
correspondence  with  him,  while  the  Karaites  assidu- 
ously read  his  works,  and  in  later  times  considered 
him  a  member  of  their  own  party. 

Karaism  was  still  dragging  itself  along  in  its 
decaying,  stiffening  form.  Internal  schisms  remained 
unaccommodated.  Different  Karaite  congregadons 
celebrated  the  fesdvals  at  different  times:  the 
Palestinians,  according  to  the  observation  of  the 
new  moon,  and  the  extra-Palestinian  congregations, 
in  common  with  the  Rabbanites.  Their  extremely 
severe  marriage  laws  were  not  finally  settled  even 
at  this  epoch.     Karaism   at   that   time   had   three 

CH.  II.  AARON    BEN    JOSEPH.  /I 

centers — Cairo  in  Egypt,  Constantinople  in  the 
Byzantine  Empire,  and  Sulchat  (Eski-Crim)  in  the 
Crimean  peninsula.  Some  importance  was  pos- 
sessed by  Aaron  ben  Joseph  the  Elder,  physician  in 
Constantinople  (flourished  about  1270 — 1300).  He 
came  originally  from  the  Crimea,  made  extensive 
voyages,  and  acquired  a  knowledge  of  medicine 
and  philosophy.  Aaron  I  also  made  himself  inti- 
mate with  Rabbanite  literature  to  a  degree  that  few 
of  his  sect  attained.  He  made  use  of  Nachmani's 
commentary  on  the  Pentateuch,  and  from  this 
circumstance  arose  the  mistake  of  later  Karaites, 
that  Aaron  had  sat  at  Nachmani's  feet.  His  famili- 
arity with  Rabbanite  literature  had  a  beneficial 
effect  on  his  style ;  he  wrote  much  more  clearly  and 
intelligibly  than  most  of  the  Karaite  authors.  He 
was  even  disposed  to  accept  the  tradition  of  the 

He  completely  fixed  the  Karaite  prayer  book 
(Siddur  Tefila),  hitherto  in  an  unsettled  condition, 
incorporating  into  it  hymns  written  by  Gebirol, 
Jehuda  Halevi,  Ibn-Ezra,  and  other  Rabbanite 
liturgical  poets.  Aaron  himself  possessed  very 
little  poetical  genius,  and  his  metrical  prayers,  with 
which  he  enriched  the  prayer  book  of  the  Karaites, 
have  no  great  poetical  merit,  but  by  the  admission 
of  hymns  written  by  Rabbanites  into  his  compila- 
tion, he  showed  that  he  knew  how  to  appreciate  the 
devout  sublimity  in  the  prayers  of  the  Spanish 
Jews,  and  that  he  was  not  altogether  devoid  of  taste. 
If  Shemarya,  of  Negroponte,  had  undertaken  to  effect 
a  reconciliation  between  the  Rabbanites  and  the 
Karaites  in  a  more  intelligent  and  energetic  manner, 
there  can  be  no  doubt  that  Aaron  would  willingly 
have  offered  his  assistance,  provided,  of  course,  that 
he  had  known  of  Shemarya's  attempt.  There  was 
not  wanting  among  Karaites  a  strong  inclination  for 
union.  Owing  to  the  activity  of  Abraham  Maimuni 
II,  a  great-grandson  of  the  renowned  Maimuni,  who 


had  succeeded  to  the  post  of  Chief  (Nagid)  of  the 
Rabbanite  communities  in  Egypt  after  the  death  of 
his  father  David,  an  important  Karaite  congrega- 
tion in  Egypt  on  one  day  openly  acknowleged  the 
teachings  of  the  Rabbanites.  In  Palestine,  too, 
frequent  conversions  of  Karaites  to  Talmudical 
Judaism  took  place.  On  this  account  the  rabbis  of 
the  time  were  more  favorably  disposed  towards 
them.  On  the  one  hand,  the  strict  Talniudist  Sam- 
son of  Sens  denounced  the  Karaites  as  heathens, 
whose  wine  was  not  to  be  partaken  of  by  orthodox 
Jews;  on  the  other  hand,  Estori  Parchi,  who  had 
been  banished  from  Provence,  and  who,  emigrating 
to  Palestine,  had  settled  in  Bethshan,  recognized 
them  as  co-religionists,  led  astray  by  erroneous 
notions,  but  not  to  be  rejected. 



Condition  of  Palestine — Pilgrims  and  Immigrants — Shem  Tob  Ibn- 
Gaon — Favorable  Position  of  the  Jews  in  Castile  under  Alfonso 
XI — Persecution  in  Navarre — Joseph  de  Ecija  and  Samuel  Ibn- 
Wakar — Increase  of  Anti-Jewish  Feelings — Abner-Alfonso  of 
Burgos,  Convert  to  Christianity,  and  Persecutor  of  the  Jews — 
Gonzalo  Martinez — Fall  of  Martinez  and  Deliverance  of  the 
Jews — Decline  of  the  Study  of  Science — The  Study  of  the  Talmud 
prosecuted  with  Renewed  Vigor — Jacob  and  Judah  Asheri — 
Isaac  Pulgar,  David  Ibn-Albilla — The  Provengal  Philosophers 
Ibn-Kaspi,  Leon  de  Bagnols,  and  Vidal  Narboni — Decline  of 
the  Study  of  the  Talmud  in  Germany — Emp)eror  Louis  of  Bavaria 
and  the  Jews — Persecution  by  the  "  Leather-Anns." 

1328 — 1350  C.E. 

The  Holy  Land  was  once  more  accessible  to  its 
children.  The  Egyptian  sultans,  into  whose  power 
it  passed  after  the  fall  of  Accho  and  the  expulsion 
of  the  Christians,  were  more  tolerant  than  the 
Christian  Byzantine  emperors  and  the  Prankish 
crusading  kings.  They  did  not  hinder  the  coming 
of  Jewish  pilgrims  who  desired  to  lighten  their  over- 
burdened hearts  by  praying  and  weeping  over  the 
ruins  of  the  past,  so  rich  in  recollections,  or  at  the 
graves  of  their  great  men  there  interred ;  nor  did 
they  oppose  the  settlement  of  European  exiles,  who 
again  cultivated  the  soil  of  the  land  of  their  fathers. 
The  long,  firm,  yet  mild,  reign  of  the  Mameluke 
sultan,  Nassir  Mahomet  (1299 — 1341),  was  a  happy 
time  for  the  Jews  who  visited  Palestine.  Whilst 
under  the  rule  of  the  Christian  governors  of  the 
country  no  Jew  was  permitted  to  approach  the 
former  capital,  at  this  time  Jewish  pilgrims  from 
Eg)'pt  and  Syria  regularly  came  to  Jerusalem,  to 
celebrate  the  festivals,  as  in  the  time  when  the 
Temple  shone  in  all  its  splendor.  The  Karaites 
established  special  forms  of  prayer  for  those  who 



went  on  pilgrimages  to  Jerusalem  ;  at  their  depart- 
ure, the  whole  congregation  assembled  to  give  ut- 
terance in  prayer  to  the  bitter-sweet  emotions 
connected  with  Zion.  The  immigrants  who  settled 
in  Palestine  engaged  in  agriculture.  They  came  to 
feel  so  thoroughly  at  home  there  that  the  question 
was  mooted  whether  the  laws  of  tithes,  of  the  year 
of  release,  and  others  ought  not  to  be  again  carried 
into  effect.  In  consequence  of  the  freedom  and  tol- 
erance which  the  Jews  were  enjoying,  many  en- 
thusiastic spirits  were  again  seized  by  the  ardent 
desire  to  kiss  the  dust  of  the  Holy  Land.  Emigra- 
tion to  Palestine,  especially  from  the  extreme  west, 
became  very  common  at  this  time. 

A  pupil  of  Meir  of  Rothenburg,  named  Abraham, 
a  painstaking  copyist  of  holy  writings,  considered 
his  dwelling  in  the  Holy  Land  a  mark  of  divine 
grace.  Two  young  Kabbalists,  Chananel  Ibn-As- 
kara  and  Shem  Tob  Ibn-Gaon  from  Spain,  also  trav- 
eled thither,  probably  to  be  nearer  the  source  of 
the  mystic  doctrines,  which  fancy  assigned  to  this 
country,  and  took  up  their  residence  in  Safet.  But 
instead  of  obtaining  fresh  information  upon  the  doc- 
trines of  the  Kabbala;  one  of  them — Ibn-Askara  died 
in  his  youth — introduced  new  features  of  the  science. 
Shem  Tob  ben  Abraham  Ibn-Gaon,  from  Segovia 
(born  1283,  died  after  1330),  whose  teacher  in  the 
Talmud  had  been  Ben  Adret,  and  in  the  Kabbala 
Isaac  ben  Todros,  was  a  zealous  adherent  of  the 
secret  science,  and  described  even  Maimuni  as  a 

The  congregation  of  Jerusalem  was  at  this  time 
very  numerous.  A  large  portion  of  the  Rabbanite 
community  led  a  contemplative  life,  studied  the  Tal- 
mud day  and  night,  and  became  engrossed  with  the 
secret  lore  of  the  Kabbala.  There  were  also  handi- 
craftsmen, merchants,  and  several  acquainted  with 
the  science  of  medicine,  with  mathematics  and  as- 
tronomy.    The  artistic  work  of  the  famous  callig- 

CH.  III.  THE   HOLY   LAND.  75 

raphers  of  Jerusalem  was  in  great  demand,  far  and 
near.  Hebron,  too,  possessed  a  vigorous  commun- 
ity, whose  members  engaged  chiefly  in  the  weaving 
and  dyeing  of  cotton-stuffs,  and  in  the  manufacture 
of  glass  wares,  exported  in  large  quantities.  In  the 
south  of  Palestine,  in  company  with  Mahometans, 
Jewish  shepherds  again  pastured  their  flocks  after 
the  manner  of  the  patriarchs.  Their  rabbi  was  also 
a  shepherd,  and  delivered  discourses  upon  the  Tal- 
mud in  the  pasture  fields  for  such  as  desired  to  ob- 
tain instruction. 

Although  the  Holy  Land  was  the  goal  of  arden^ 
longing  hearts,  yet  it  was  no  more  a  center  for  the 
dispersed  of  the  Jewish  race  than  it  had  been  for  a 
long  time  previous.  It  could  not  produce  an  original 
leader  of  any  sort,  and  lived  upon  the  crumbs  of  cult- 
ure dropped  by  the  Jews  in  Europe.  The  Kabbala, 
studied  in  Palestine  since  the  time  of  Nachmani, 
was  an  exotic  plant  which  could  never  flourish  very 
well  there,  and  degenerated  into  rankest  supersti- 
tion. The  Holy  Land  did  not  even  produce  a  Tal- 
mudical  authority  of  widespread  renown ;  also  for 
earnest  rabbinical  studies  it  had  become  dependent 
upon  Europe.  The  leadership  of  Judaism  in  the  days 
after  the  death  of  Ben  Adret  and  Asheri  remained 
with  Spain,  not  as  formerly  Aragon,  but  Castile, 
where  the  family  of  Asheri  and  their  views  prevailed. 
Here  lived  Talmudical  authorities  whose  decisions 
were  considered  final.  Here  was  still  to  be  found, 
if  not  a  flourishing  state  of  science,  at  least  appre- 
ciation of  scientific  research.  In  Castile,  under  the 
rule  of  the  powerful  and  intelligent  Alfonso  XI,  the 
Jews  were  in  so  prosperous  a  condition  that,  com- 
pared with  other  countries  in  Europe,  this  period 
may  be  called  a  Golden  Age.  Several  clever  Jews 
in  succession,  under  the  modest  title  of  ministers 
of  finance  (Almoxarif),  exercised  an  influence  upon 
the  course  of  politics.  Not  only  the  court,  but  also 
the  great  nobles,  surrounded  themselves  with  Jew- 

y6  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  111. 

ish  counselors  and  officers.  In  place  of  the  humble, 
servile  bearing-,  and  the  degrading  badge  which  the 
church  decreed  for  the  Jews,  the  Jewish  Spaniards 
still  bore  their  heads  erect,  and  clothed  themselves 
in  gold  and  silk.  Dazzled  by  the  glitter  of  this  fav- 
orable state  of  affairs,  some  recognized  the  fulfill- 
ment of  the  old  prophecy,  "the  scepter  shall  not 
depart  from  Judah,"  which  Christians  had  so  often 
employed  in  their  attacks  on  Judaism. 

It  is  scarcely  to  be  wondered  at,  if  the  Spanish 
Jews  were  unduly  elated  because  of  the  promotion 
of  a  few  from  their  midst  to  state  offices.  Such 
prominent  public  men  were  for  the  most  part  a  pro- 
tecting shield  for  the  communities  against  the  ava- 
ricious and  turbulent  lower  orders  of  the  nobility, 
against  the  stupid  credulity  and  envy  of  the  mob, 
and  the  serpent-like  cunning  of  the  clergy,  lying 
concealed  but  ready  to  attack  the  Jews.  Jewish 
ministers  and  counselors  in  the  service  and  the  reti- 
nue of  the  king,  clothed  in  the  costume  of  the  court, 
and  wearing  at  their  sides  the  knightly  sword,  by 
these  very  circumstances,  without  special  mterces- 
sion,  disarmed  the  enemies  of  their  brethren  in  faith 
and  race.  The  impoverished  nobles,  who  possessed 
nothing  more  than  their  swords,  were  filled  with  envy 
of  the  rich  and  wise  court  Jews ;  but  they  were  com- 
pelled to  stifle  their  feelings.  The  masses,  guided 
by  appearances,  did  not  venture,  as  was  done  in 
Germany,  to  ill-treat  or  slay  any  Jew  they  chanced 
across,  as  an  outlaw  and  a  pariah,  because  they 
knew  that  the  Jews  were  held  in  high  favor  at  court. 
They  often  overrated  their  influence,  believing  that 
the  Jews  at  court  could  obtain  a  hearing  with  the 
king  at  any  time.  Even  the  haughty  clergy  were 
obliged  to  restrain  themselves  so  long  as  Joseph  of 
Ecija,  Samuel  Ibn-Wakar,  and  others,  were  in  a 
position  to  counteract  their  influence. 

If  the  Castilian  Jews  compared  the  condition  of 
their  brethren  in  neighboring  countries  with  their 


own,  they  must  certainly  have  felt  exalted,  and 
entitled  to  be  proud  of  their  lot.  In  Aragon,  at 
this  time  united  into  one  kingdom  with  the  islands 
of  Majorca  and  Sicily,  the  persecuting  spirit  of  the 
church,  which  Raymond  de  Penyaforte  had  stirred 
up,  and  Jayme  I  had  perpetuated  by  means  of 
oppressive  laws,  was  rampant.  In  Navarre,  which 
for  half  a  century  had  belonged  to  the  crown  of 
France,  the  hatred  against  the  Jews  burned  with  a 
frenzy  hitherto  to  be  met  with  only  in  Germany. 
The  last  of  the  Capets,  Charles  IV,  was  dead,  and 
with  the  accession  of  Philip  VI  to  the  French  throne 
the  House  of  Valois  began.  It  is  noteworthy  that 
even  Christians  believed  that  the  extinction  of  the 
lineal  successors  of  Philip  le  Bel  was  retribution  for 
his  merciless  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  France. 
The  people  of  Navarre  strove  to  separate  them- 
selves from  the  rule  of  France,  and  form  an  inde- 
pendent state.  It  is  not  known  in  how  far  the  Jews 
stood  in  the  way  of  their  project.  Anyhow  it  is 
certain  that  suddenly,  throughout  the  whole  country, 
a  bloodthirsty  enmity  arose  against  the  Jews, 
prompted  by  envy  of  their  riches,  and  fostered  by 
the  monks.  A  Franciscan,  named  Pedro  Olligoyen, 
made  himself  most  prominent  in  goading  on  the 
deluded  mob  against  the  innocent  Jews.  In  the 
large  congregation  of  Estella  a  most  horrible  mas- 
sacre began  on  a  Sabbath  (23d  Adar — 5th  March, 
1328).  The  infuriated  mob  raised  the  cry,  "Death 
to  the  Jews,  or  their  conversion." 

In  vain  did  the  Jews  attempt  to  defend  themselves 
in  their  streets  ;  the  inhabitants  of  the  city,  strength- 
ened by  troops  from  other  places,  besieged  them, 
and  took  by  storm  the  walls  which  surrounded  the 
Jewish  quarter,  breaking  them  down  and  slaying 
almost  all  the  Jews  of  the  city.  They  also  set  fire  to 
the  Jewish  houses,  and  reduced  them  to  ashes.  The 
description  by  an  eye-witness  of  his  own  sufferings 
gives  only  a  feeble  idea  of  the  horrors  of  this  savage 


massacre  in  Estella.  The  murderers  had  slain  the 
parents  and  the  four  younger  brothers  of  Menachem 
ben  Zerach,  then  barely  twenty  years  old,  afterwards 
a  scholar  of  commanding  influence.  He  himself  was 
wounded  by  the  murderers  and  knocked  down,  lying 
on  the  ground  unconscious,  from  evening  till  mid- 
night, beneath  a  number  of  corpses.  A  compassion- 
ate knight,  a  friend  of  Menachem's  father,  searched 
for  him  beneath  the  pile  of  corpses,  took  him  to  his 
house,  and  had  him  carefully  tended  till  he  recovered 
from  his  wounds.  Similar  scenes  of  barbarity  were 
enacted  in  other  parts  of  the  country,  especially  in 
Tudela,  the  largest  community  in  Navarre,  and  in 
the  smaller  ones  of  Falcos,  Funes,  Moncilla,  Viana 
and  others,  but  nowhere  to  so  frightful  an  extent 
as  in  Estella.  Over  six  thousand  Jews  perished  in 
these  massacres.  Only  the  Jews  of  the  capital, 
Pampeluna,  appear  to  have  escaped  these  savage 
attacks.  The  people  of  Navarre  at  length  suc- 
ceeded in  their  desire  ;  their  country  was  separated 
from  France,  and  obtained  a  king  of  its  own,  Philip 
III,  Count  of  Evreux  and  Angouleme.  As  soon  as 
he  was  crowned,  the  relatives  of  the  murdered 
entreated  him  to  mete  out  justice.  At  first,  Philip 
prosecuted  the  guilty  persons  in  real  earnest ;  he 
ordered  the  ringleaders,  the  Franciscan  Pedro 
Olligoyen  and  others  to  be  cast  into  prison,  and  laid 
a  fine  upon  the  cities  in  which  these  crimes  had  been 
committed.  But,  in  course  of  time,  he  liberated  all 
the  imprisoned,  and  remitted  the  fine  as  an  act  of 
grace.  He  took  good  care,  too,  not  to  let  the  stolen 
property  and  the  possessions  of  persons  without 
heirs  escape  him  ;  they  had  to  be  surrendered  to 
him,  just  as  in  Germany.  There  was  no  objection 
to  the  Jews'being  slaughtered,  but  the  royal  treasury 
was  not  to  suffer  loss  on  that  account.  This  king 
and  his  successors  imposed  new  burdens  upon 
the  wretched  people.  The  Jews  of  Navarre  now 
began  to  sink  into  degradation  like  those  of  Germany. 


The  sun  that  was  shining  upon  them  In  Castile  at 
this  time  was,  strictly  speaking,  only  a  false  sun,  but 
its  glimmer,  compared  with  the  gloom  wherein  the 
congregations  of  other  countries  were  steeped,  gives 
at  least  momentary  pleasure,  Alfonso  XI,  as  soon 
as  he  came  of  age,  and  obtained  the  sovereignty 
(1325 — 1380),  had  two  Jewish  favorites,  Don  Joseph 
of  Ecija  and  Samuel  Ibn-Wakar.  The  former, 
whose  full  name  was  Joseph  ben  Ephraim  Ibn-Ben- 
veniste  HalevI,  had  a  pleasing  exterior,  understood 
music,  and  knew  how  to  ingratiate  himself  with  those 
in  power.  At  the  recommendation  of  his  uncle,  the 
king  had  made  him  not  only  minister  of  finance 
(Almoxarif),  but  also  his  confidential  counselor 
(privado),  whose  opinion  he  highly  valued.  Joseph 
of  Ecija  possessed  a  state  carriage,  knights  accom- 
panied him  as  an  escort  on  his  journeys,  and  hidal- 
gos dined  at  his  table.  On  one  occasion  the  king 
dispatched  him  on  a  very  important  and  honorable 
mission  which  almost  cost  him  his  life.  He  was 
besieged  by  the  citizens  of  Valladolid  in  the  palace 
of  the  Infanta,  and  they  demanded  his  surrender 
with  tumultuous  clamor.  Some  of  Joseph's  retinue 
succeeded  in  escaping  from  the  city,  and  they  hast- 
ened at  full  speed  to  the  king,  to  whom  they  related 
what  had  taken  place.  Alfonso  rightly  considered 
this  a  revolt  against  his  sovereignty.  He  marched 
rapidly  against  Valladolid,  and  summoned  the 
knights  of  Old  Castile  to  join  him.  For  the  sake  of 
his  Jewish  favorite,  he  besieged  the  former  capital  of 
his  kingdom,  burnt  many  houses,  and  would  have 
destroyed  the  place  entirely,  had  not  more  moderate 
persons  intervened,  and  explained  to  the  king  that 
the  people  were  not  so  much  embittered  against 
Don  Joseph  as  against  Don  Alvar  Nunez,  whose 
influence  was  most  hateful  to  them.  Don  Alfonso 
thereupon  condescended  to  remove  Alvar  from  his 
public  offices,  whilst  Don  Joseph  continued  in  favor 
with  the  king. 


The  other  favorite  of  King  Alfonso  was  his 
physician,  Don  Samuel  Ibn-Wakar  (Abenhuacar). 
This  man  had  a  scientific  education,  was  an  astron- 
omer, and  perhaps  the  astrologer  of  his  master. 
Although  he  occupied  no  public  office,  and  took  no 
part  in  state  affairs,  yet,  through  the  favor  of  the 
king,  he  possessed  very  great  influence.  There 
existed  between  Don  Joseph  of  Ecija  and  Ibn- 
Wakar  the  jealousy  which  is  common  among  cour- 
tiers who  bask  in  the  rays  of  the  same  sun.  On 
account  of  their  rivalry,  these  two  favorites  sought 
to  injure  each  other,  and  thus  they  and  their  co- 
religionists incurred  the  hatred  of  the  people. 

Some  wealthy  Jews,  probably  relying  upon  the 
favorable  position  of  their  friends  at  court,  carried 
on  money  transactions  in  an  unscrupulous  manner. 
They  extorted  a  high  rate  of  interest,  and  merci- 
lessly persecuted  their  dilatory  Christian  debtors. 
The  king  himself  encouraged  the  usury  of  the  Jews 
and  Moors,  because  he  gained  advantage  there- 
from. The  complaints  of  the  people  against  the 
Jewish  and  Mahometan  usurers  grew  very  numer- 
ous. The  cortes  of  Madrid,  Valladolid  and  other 
cities  made  this  point  the  subject  of  petitions  pre- 
sented to  the  king,  demanding  the  abolition  of  these 
abuses,  and  the  king  was  compelled  to  yield  to  their 

The  minds  of  the  people,  however,  remained  em- 
bittered against  the  Jews.  The  cortes  of  Madrid 
thereupon  called  for  several  restrictive  laws  against 
the  Jews,  such  as,  that  they  should  not  be  allowed 
to  acquire  landed  property,  and  that  Jewish  minis- 
ters of  finance  and  farmers  of  taxes  should  not  be 
appointed  (1329).  Alfonso  replied,  that,  in  the 
main,  things  should  continue  as  they  had  been  be- 
fore. Don  Samuel  Ibn-Wakar  rose  even  higher  in 
the  royal  favor.  Don  Alfonso  intrusted  him  with 
the  farming  of  the  revenues  derived  from  the  im- 
portation of  goods  from  the  kingdom  of  Granada. 


He,  moreover,  obtained  the  privilege  empowering 
him  to  issue  the  coinage  of  the  realm  at  a  lower 
standard.  Joseph  of  Ecija  now  became  jealous  and 
offered  a  higher  sum  for  the  right  of  farming  the 
import-taxes  from  Granada.  When  he  thought  he 
had  supplanted  his  rival,  the  latter  dealt  him  a 
severe  blow.  Ibn-Wakar  succeeded  in  persuading 
the  king  that  it  would  be  more  advantageous  to 
the  people  of  Castile  to  carry  the  protective  system 
to  its  uttermost  limits,  and  prohibit  all  imports  from 
the  neighboring  Moorish  kingdom  (1330 — 133 1). 

Whilst  the  two  Jewish  courtiers  were  stri\ang 
to  injure  each  other,  the  enemies  of  the  Jews  were 
busily  at  work  to  imperil  their  reputation  and  the 
existence  of  all  the  Castilian  congregations.  They 
inflamed  the  minds  of  the  people  by  representing  to 
them  that,  owing  to  the  depreciation  in  the  value  of 
money,  brought  about  by  die  farmer  of  the  coinage, 
Ibn-Wakar,  the  price  of  the  necessaries  of  life  had 
risen,  these  articles  being  exported  to  the  neighbor- 
ing countries,  where  they  were  bartered  for  silver, 
which  had  a  higher  value  in  their  own  land.  The 
enemies  of  the  Jews  also  brought  the  influence  of 
the  church  to  bear  to  arouse  the  prejudices  of  the 
king  against  all  the  Jews.  Their  champion  was  a 
Jew,  who  no  sooner  had  embraced  Christianity,  than 
he  became  a  fanatical  persecutor  of  his  brethren. 
This  was  the  infamous  Abner,  the  forerunner  of  the 
baptized  and  unbaptized  Jew-haters,  who  prepared, 
and  at  length  accomplished,  the  humiliation  and 
banishment  of  the  Spanish  Jews. 

Abner  of  Burgos,  or  as  he  was  afterwards  called, 
Alfonso  Burgensis  de  Valladolid  (born  about  1270, 
died  about  1346),  was  well  acquainted  with  biblical 
and  Talmudical  writings,  occupied  himself  with 
science,  and  practiced  medicine.  His  knowledge 
had  destroyed  his  religious  belief,  and  turned  him 
not  only  against  Judaism,  but  against  all  faiths. 
Troubled  by  cares  for  his  subsistence,  Abner  did 


not  obtain  the  desired  support  from  his  kinsmen  in 
race.  He  was  too  little  of  a  philosopher  to  accept 
his  modest  lot.  His  desires  were  extravagant,  and 
he  was  unable  to  find  the  means  to  satisfy  them.  In 
order  to  be  able  to  live  in  ease  and  splendor,  Abner 
determined,  when  nearly  sixty  years  of  age,  to  adopt 
Christianity,  although  this  religion  was  as  little  able 
to  give  him  inward  contentment  as  that  which  he 
forsook.  As  a  Christian,  he  assumed  the  name  of 
Alfonso.  The  infidel  disciple  of  Aristotle  and  Aver- 
roes  accepted  an  ecclesiastical  office ;  he  became 
sacristan  at  a  large  church  in  Valladolid,  to  which  a 
rich  benefice  was  attached,  enabling  him  to  gratify 
his  worldly  desires.  He  attempted  to  excuse  his 
hypocritical  behavior  and  his  apostasy  by  means  of 
sophistical  arguments. 

Alfonso  carried  his  want  of  conscientiousness  so 
far  that  not  long  after  his  conversion  to  Christianity 
he  attacked  his  former  brethren  in  faith  and  race  with 
bitter  hate,  and  showed  the  intention  of  persecuting 
them.  Owing  to  his  knowledge  of  Jewish  literature, 
it  was  easy  for  him  to  discover  its  weak  points,  em- 
ploy them  as  charges  against  Judaism,  and  draw  the 
most  hateful  inferences.  Alfonso  was  indefatigable 
in  his  accusations  against  the  Jews  and  Judaism, 
and  composed  a  long  series  of  works,  in  which  he 
introduced  arguments  partly  aggressive,  partly  de- 
fensive of  his  new  faith  against  the  attacks  upon  it 
by  the  Jews.  In  his  abuse  of  Judaism,  the  Hebrew 
language,  in  which  he  composed  with  much  greater 
ease  than  in  Spanish,  was  made  to  do  service. 

Alfonso  had  the  brazen  impudence  to  send  one  of 
his  hateful  writings  to  his  former  friend,  Isaac  Pulgar. 
The  latter  replied  in  a  sharply  satirical  poem,  and 
pressed  him  close  in  his  polemical  writings.  The 
Jews  of  Spain  had  not  yet  become  so  disheartened 
as  to  suffer  such  insolent  attacks  in  silence.  Another 
less  renowned  writer  also  answered  Alfonso,  and 
thus  a  violent  literary  warfare  broke  out 


Alfonso  of  Valladolid,  however,  did  not  content 
himself  with  polemical  writings  ;  he  boldly  presented 
himself  before  King  Alfonso  XI,  and  laid  his  accus- 
ations against  the  Jews  before  him.     He  raked  up 
anew  the  remark  of  the  Church  Father  Jerome  and 
others,  that  the  Jews  had  introduced  into  their  book 
of  prayer  a  formula  of  imprecation  against  the  God 
of  the   Christians  and  his  adherents.     The  repre- 
sentatives of  the  Jewish  community  in  Valladolid, 
probably  summoned  by  the  king   to  justify  them- 
selves,   emphatically   denied   that   the   imprecation 
originally  leveled  against   the  Minim   (Nazarenes) 
referred  to  Jesus  and  his  present  followers.    Alfonso, 
however,  would  not  admit  the  validity  of  this  excul- 
pation, and  pledged   himself  to  prove  his  charges 
against  the  Jews  in  a  disputation.     The  king  of 
Castile  thereupon  commanded  the  representatives 
of  the  Valladolid  community  to  enter  upon  a  relig- 
ious discussion  with  the  sacristan.     It  took  place 
in  the  presence  of  public  officials  and  Dominicans. 
Here  Alfonso  Burgensis  repeated  his  accusations, 
and  was  victorious,  inasmuch  as,  in  consequence  of 
this  disputation.  King  Alfonso  issued  an  edict  (25th 
Februar)',  1336)  forbidding  the  Castilian  communi- 
ties, under  penalty  of  a  fine,  to  use  the  condemned 
prayer  or  formula  of  imprecation.     Thus  the  ene- 
mies of  the  Jews  succeeded  in  winning  over  the 
king,    who   was   really   well-disposed   towards   the 
Jews.     More  ominous  events  were  to  happen. 

King  Alfonso  was  not  very  constant ;  he  trans- 
ferred his  favor  from  one  person  to  another.  He 
took  into  his  confidence  a  man  unworthy  of  the  dis- 
tinction, named  Gonzalo  Martinez  (Nunez)  de 
Oviedo,  originally  a  poor  knight,  who  had  been  pro- 
moted through  the  patronage  of  the  Jewish  favorite, 
Don  Joseph  of  Ecija.  Far  from  being  grateful  to 
his  benefactor,  he  bore  deep  hatred  against  him 
who  had  thus  raised  him,  and  his  hostile  feeling  ex- 
tended tn  all  Jews.     When  he  had  risen  to  the  post 


of  minister  of  the  royal  palace,  and  later  to  that  of 
Grand  Master  of  the  Order  of  Alcantara  (1337),  he 
revealed  his  plan  of  annihilating  the  Jews.  He 
lodged  a  formal  charge  against  Don  Joseph  and  Don 
Samuel  Ibn-Wakar,  to  the  effect  that  they  had  en- 
riched themselves  in  the  service  of  the  king.  He 
obtained  the  permission  of  the  king  to  deal  with 
them  as  he  chose,  so  as  to  extort  money  from  them. 
Thereupon  Gonzalo  ordered  both  of  them,  together 
with  two  brothers  of  Ibn-Wakar,  and  eight  relatives 
with  their  families,  to  be  thrown  into  prison,  and 
confiscated  their  property.  Don  Joseph  of  Ecija 
died  in  prison,  and  Don  Samuel  died  under  the  tor- 
ture to  which  he  was  subjected.  This  did  not  sat- 
isfy the  enemy  of  the  Jews.  He  now  sought  to 
destroy  two  other  Jews,  who  held  high  positions 
at  court — Moses  Abudiel  and  (Sulaiman?)  Ibn- 
Yaish.  He  implicated  them  in  a  charge,  pretending 
all  the  while  to  be  friendly  towards  them.  Through 
their  downfall  Gonzalo  Martinez  thought  to  carry 
into  effect  his  wicked  plan  against  the  Castilian  Jews 
without  difficulty. 

The  Moorish  king  of  Morocco,  Abulhassan 
(Alboacin),  whose  help  was  implored  by  his  op- 
pressed co-religionists  in  Granada,  had  sent  a  very 
large  army  under  the  command  of  his  son,  Abume- 
lik,  over  the  straits  to  undertake  a  vigorous  campaign 
against  Castile.  On  the  reception  of  this  news,  terror 
spread  throughout  Christian  Spain.  King  Alfonso 
forthwith  appointed  Gonzalo  Martinez,  Master  of  the 
Order  of  Alcantara,  as  general  in  charge  of  this 
war,  and  invested  him  with  plenary  power.  But 
funds  were  wanting  ;  at  the  deliberation  on  ways 
and  means  of  procuring  them,  Gonzalo  propounded 
his  plan  for  depriving  the  Jews  of  their  wealth,  and 
then  expeUing  them  from  Castile.  By  this  means, 
large  supplies  of  money  would  flow  into  the  royal 
treasury;  for  all  the  Christians  who  were  dunned 
by   the  Jews  would   willingly  pay  large   sums  of 


money  to  rid  themselves  of  their  enemies.  For- 
tunately this  proposal  met  with  opposition  in  the 
royal  council,  and  even  from  the  most  prominent 
clergyman  in  Castile,  the  archbishop  of  Toledo. 
The  latter  urged  that  the  Jews  were  an  inexhaust- 
ible treasure  for  the  king,  of  which  the  state  should 
not  deprive  itself,  and  that  the  rulers  of  Castile  had 
guaranteed  them  protection  and  toleration.  Don 
Moses  Abudiel,  who  obtained  information  concerning 
the  council  held  to  decide  on  the  weal  or  woe  of  the 
Jews,  advised  the  congregations  to  institute  public 
fasts,  and  to  supplicate  the  God  of  their  fathers  to 
frustrate  the  wickedness  of  Gonzalo.  The  latter 
marched  to  the  frontier  against  the  Moorish  army, 
and  secured  an  easy  victory.  It  happened,  fortun- 
ately for  the  Spaniard,  that  the  Moorish  general, 
Abumelik,  fell  pierced  by  an  arrow,  and  his  army, 
filled  with  dismay  at  this  event,  was  defeated  and 
put  to  rout.  The  vainglory  of  the  Grand  Master 
of  Alcantara  now  attained  a  high  pitch.  He  thought 
to  obtain  such  great  importance  in  Spanish  affairs 
that  the  king  would  be  compelled  to  approve  of  all 
measures  proposed  by  him.  He  was,  indeed,  filled 
with  that  pride  which  precedes  a  fall. 

The  feeble  hand  of  a  woman  was  the  cause  of  his 
downfall.  The  beautiful  and  sprightly  Leonora  de 
Guzman,  who  had  so  enthralled  the  king  with  her 
charms  that  he  was  more  faithful  to  her  than  to  his 
wife,  hated  the  favorite  Gonzalo  Martinez,  and  suc- 
ceeded in  making  the  king  believe  that  he  spoke  ill 
of  him.  Alfonso  desiring  to  learn  the  real  truth  of 
the  matter  sent  a  command  to  Gonzalo  to  present 
himself  before  him  in  Madrid  ;  he,  however,  dis- 
obeyed the  royal  command.  To  be  able  to  defy  the 
anger  of  the  king,  he  stirred  up  the  knights  of  the 
Order  of  Alcantara  and  the  citizens  of  the  towns 
assigned  to  his  government,  tc  rebel  against  his 
sovereign,  entered  into  traitorous  negotiations  with 
the  king  of  Portugal  and  with  the  enemy  of  the 


Christians,  the  king  of  Granada.  Alfonso  was  forced 
to  lead  his  nobles  against  him,  and  besiege  him  in 
Valencia  de  Alcantara.  In  mad  defiance,  Gonzalo 
directed  arrows  and  missiles  to  be  aimed  at  the  king, 
which  mortally  wounded  a  man  in  the  vicinity  of 
Alfonso.  But  some  of  the  knights  of  the  Order  of 
Alcantara  forsook  their  Grand  Master,  and  sur- 
rendered the  stronghold  to  the  king.  There 
remained  nothing  for  Gonzalo  except  to  yield.  He 
was  condemned  to  death  as  a  traitor,  and  was  burnt 
at  the  stake  (1336),  and  thus  ended  the  man  w^ho 
had  sworn  to  annihilate  the  Jews.  The  Castilian 
congregations  thereupon  celebrated  a  new  festival 
of  deliverance,  in  the  same  month  in  which  the  evil 
plans  of  Haman  against  the  Jews  had  recoiled  on 
his  own  head.  Alfonso  again  received  the  Jews 
into  his  favor,  and  raised  Moses  Abudiel  to  a  high 
position  at  his  court.  From  this  time  till  the  day  of 
his  death,  Alfonso  XI  acted  justly  towards  his 
Jewish  subjects. 

It  may  be  thought  that,  under  these  on  the  whole 
favorable  circumstances,  the  Jews  occupied  them- 
selves with  their  intellectual  culture,  which  had 
already  developed  its  full  blossom  ;  but  it  was  not 
so.  Castile  in  particular,  and  all  Spain,  at  this 
epoch,  were  very  deficient  in  men  who  cultivated 
Jewish  science.  The  Talmud  constituted  the  only 
branch  of  study  which  intellectual  men  attended  to, 
and  even  here  there  was  no  particular  fertility. 
Decrease  in  strength  manifested  itself  even  in  the 
study  of  the  Talmud.  The  most  famous  rabbis  of 
this  period  had  so  great  a  mistrust  of  their  own 
powers  that  they  no  longer  dared  take  an  independ- 
ent view  of  anything,  and  relied  more  and  more 
upon  the  conclusions  of  older  authorities.  They 
made  it  very  convenient  for  themselves  by  slavishly 
following  Maimuni's  Code  in  practical  decisions, 
deviating  from  it  only  in  such  particulars  as  Asheri 
had  objected  to.     The  latter  had  pretty  well  sue- 


ceeded,  if  not  in  altogether  destroying  the  inclina- 
tion of  the  Spanish  Jews  to  engage  in  scientific 
inquiry,  at  least  in  bringing  science  into  disrepute, 
and  thus  weakening  its  study.  The  distinguished 
supporters  of  philosophy  henceforth  no  more  came 
from  Spain ;  the  few  that  came  into  prominence  were 
from  southern  France.  These  were  Ibn-Kaspi,  Ger- 
sonides  and  Narboni.  Asheri  and  his  sons,  who 
inherited  his  hostility  to  science,  in  causing  the  view 
to  become  general  throughout  Spain,  that  a  man 
should  not  engage  in  higher  questions  concerning 
Judaism  and  its  connection  with  philosophy,  did  not 
consider  that  by  this  means  the  spirit  of  the  Spanish 
Jews  would  become  enfeebled  and  incapacitated  for 
Talmudical  investigations,  too.  The  Jewish  sons 
of  Spain  were  not  so  well  suited  for  the  study  of 
narrow  Talmudism  as  the  German  Jews.  Prevented 
from  occupying  themselves  with  science,  they  lost 
their  buoyancy  of  spirit,  and  became  unfit  for  the 
studies  permitted.  Even  their  pleasure  in  song  and 
their  poetical  talents  died  away.  Occasionally  a 
poem  was  still  produced,  but  it  consisted  merely  of 
rude  and  unimaginative  rhymes.  In  time  they  were 
no  better  than  the  German  Jews,  whom  they  had 
before  so  greatly  despised.  Even  their  prose  style, 
on  which  the  Spanish  Jews  had  formerly  bestowed 
so  much  care,  degenerated  for  the  most  part  into 
spiritless  verbosity.  The  charming  writer,  Santob 
de  Carrion,  who  as  early  as  the  time  of  Alfonso  XI 
had  clothed  his  thoughts  in  beautiful  Spanish  verse, 
was  a  solitary  poet,  whose  song  awoke  no  echo. 

The  eight  sons  of  Asheri,  his  relatives,  who  had 
emigrated  with  him  from  Germany  to  Toledo, 
together  with  his  numerous  grandsons,  dominated 
Spanish  Judaism  from  this  time  onwards.  They 
introduced  a  one-sided  Talmudical  method  of  in- 
struction deeply  tinged  with  a  gloomy,  ascetic  view 
of  religion.  The  most  famous  of  the  sons  of 
Asheri  were  Jacob  (Baal  ha-Turim)    and  Jehuda, 

88  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  111. 

both  intensely  religious,  and  of  unselfish,  self-sacri- 
ficing dispositions ;  they  were,  however,  limited  to 
a  very  narrow  range  of  ideas.  Both  were  as  learned 
in  the  Talmud  as  they  were  ignorant  in  other  sub- 
jects, and  possessed  every  quality  calculated  to 
bring  the  decay  of  religion  into  accord  with  the  in- 
creasing sufferings  of  the  Jews  in  this  third  home 
of  their  race. 

Jacob  ben  Asheri  (born  about  1280,  died  1340) 
was  visited  by  bitter  misfortunes.  His  life  was  one 
chain  of  sufferings  and  privations  ;  but  he  bore  all 
with  patience,  without  murmur  or  complaint.  Al- 
though his  father,  Asheri,  had  brought  much  wealth 
with  him  to  Spain,  and  had  always  been  in  good 
circumstances,  yet  his  son,  Jacob,  had  to  suffer  the 
bitterest  pangs  of  poverty.  Nevertheless,  he  re- 
ceived no  salary  as  a  rabbi :  in  fact,  he  does  not 
appear  to  have  filled  that  post  at  any  time.  As  with 
all  the  family  of  Asheri,  both  sons  and  grandsons, 
the  Talmud  constituted  his  exclusive  interest  in  life  ; 
but  he  displayed  more  erudition  than  originality. 
His  sole  merit  consists  in  the  fact  that  he  brought 
the  chaos  of  Talmudical  learning  into  definite  order, 
and  satisfied  the  need  of  the  time  for  a  complete 
code  of  laws  for  religious  practice. 

Owing  to  his  German  origin  and  to  his  residence 
in  Spain,  Jacob  Asheri  became  familiar  with  the 
productions  of  the  different  schools  and  authorities 
in  their  minutest  details.  He  was  thus  well  suited 
to  control  this  chaotic  mass  and  reduce  it  to  order. 
On  the  basis  of  the  labors  of  all  his  predecessors  in 
this  field,  especially  of  Maimuni,.  Jacob  compiled  a 
second  religious  code  (in  four  parts,  Turim,  short- 
ened to  Tur,  about  1340).  This  work  treated  solely 
of  religious  practice,  that  is,  of  the  ritual,  moral, 
marriage  and  civil  laws.  He  omitted  all  such  things 
as  had  fallen  into  disuse  since  the  destruction  of  the 
Temple  and  because  of  altered  circumstances.  With 
the  composition  of  this  work,  a  new  phase  in  the 
inner  development  of  Judaism  may  be  said  to  begin. 


Jacob's  code  forms  part  of  a  graduated  scale, 
by  means  of  which  it  can  be  ascertained  to  how  low 
a  level  official  Judaism  had  sunk  since  the  time 
of  Maimuni.  In  Maimuni's  compilation  thought  is 
paramount ;  every  ritual  practice,  of  whatever  kind, 
whether  good  or  bad,  is  brought  into  connection 
with  the  essence  of  religion.  In  Jacob's  code,  on 
the  other  hand,  thought  or  reasoning  is  renounced. 
Religious  scrupulousness,  which  had  taken  so  firm  a 
hold  of  the  German  Jewish  congregations,  inspires 
the  laws,  and  imposes  the  utmost  stringency  and 
mortifications.  Maimuni,  in  accepting  religious  pre- 
cepts as  obligatory,  was  guided  entirely  by  the 
Talmud,  and  but  seldom  included  the  decisions  of 
the  Geonim  as  invested  with  authority.  Asheri's 
son,  on  the  contrary,  admitted  into  his  digest  of 
religious  laws  everything  that  any  pious  or  ultra- 
pious  man  had  decided  upon  either  out  of  scrupu- 
losity or  as  a  result  of  learned  exposition.  In  his 
code,  the  precepts  declared  to  be  binding  by  rab- 
binical authorities  far  outnumbered  those  of  Talmudic 
origin.  One  might  almost  say  that  in  Jacob  Asheri's 
hands,  Talmudical  Judaism  was  transformed  into 
Rabbinism.  He  even  included  some  of  the  follies 
of  the  Kabbala  in  his  religious  digest. 

Jacob's  code  is  essentially  different  from  that  of 
Maimuni,  not  only  in  contents,  but  also  in  form. 
The  style  and  the  language  do  not  manifest  the 
conciseness  and  lucidity  of  Maimuni's.  Notwith- 
standing this,  his  code  soon  met  with  universal 
acceptance,  because  it  corresponded  to  a  want  of 
the  times,  and  presented,  in  a  synoptical  form,  all 
the  ordinances  relating  to  the  ritual,  to  marriage, 
and  civil  laws  binding  on  the  adherents  of  Judaism 
in  exile  under  the  rule  of  various  nations.  Rabbis 
and  judges  accepted  it  as  the  criterion  for  practical 
decisions,  and  even  preferred  it  to  Maimuni's  work 
A  few  of  the  rabbis  of  that  age  refused  to  forego 
their  independence,    and  continued   to   pronounce 

90  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  111. 

decisions  arrived  at  by  original  inquiry,  and  there- 
fore paid  little  heed  to  the  new  religious  code.  The 
great  majority  of  them,  on  the  other  hand,  not  only 
in  Spain,  but  also  in  Germany,  were  delighted  to 
possess  a  handy  book  of  laws  systematically  pre- 
senting everything  worth  knowing,  making  deep, 
penetrative  research  superfluous,  and  taxing  the 
memory  more  than  the  understanding.  Thus  Jacob's 
Tur  became  the  indispensable  manual  for  the  knowl- 
edge of  Judaism,  as  understood  by  the  rabbis,  for  a 
period  of  four  centuries,  till  a  new  one  was  accepted 
which  far  surpassed  the  old. 

His  brother,  Jehuda  Asheri,  w^as  on  a  par  with 
Jacob  in  erudition  and  virtue,  but  did  not  possess 
similar  power  of  reducing  chaos  to  order.  He  was 
born  about  1284,  and  died  in  1349.  After  the  death 
of  his  father,  the  community  of  Toledo  elected  him 
as  Asheri's  successor  in  the  rabbinate  of  the  Spanish 
capital.  He  performed  the  functions  of  his  office 
with  extraordinary  scrupulousness,  w^ithout  respect 
of  persons,  and  was  able  to  call  the  whole  commun- 
ity to  witness  that  he  had  never  been  guilty  of  the 
slightest  trespass.  When  Jehuda  Asheri,  on  account 
of  some  small  quarrel  with  his  congregation,  re- 
solved to  take  up  his  abode  in  Seville,  the  entire 
community  unanimously  begged  of  him  to  remain 
in  their  midst,  and  doubled  his  salary.  In  spite  of 
this  show  of  affection,  he  did  not  feel  comfortable 
in  Spain,  and  in  his  will  he  is  said  to  have  advised 
his  five  sons  to  emigrate  to  Germany,  the  original 
home  of  his  family.  The  persecution  of  the  German 
Jews,  during  the  year  of  the  epidemic  pestilence, 
probably  taught  them  that  it  was  preferable  to 
dwell  in  Spain.  By  reason  of  his  position  in  the 
most  important  of  the  congregations  and  of  his 
comprehensive  rabbinical  learning,  Jehuda  Asheri 
was  regarded  as  the  highest  authority  of  his  age, 
and  was  preferred  even  to  his  brother  Jacob. 

Seeing   that  even  the  study  of  the  Talmud,  so 


zealously  pursued  in  Spain,  had  fallen  into  this 
state  of  stagnation  and  lassitude,  the  other  branches 
of  science  could  not  complain  that  they  made  no 
progress,  or  were  not  attentively  cultivated.  The 
study  of  the  Bible,  Hebrew  grammar,  and  exegesis 
were  entirely  neglected  ;  we  can  recall  hardly  a 
single  writer  who  earnestly  occupied  himself  with 
these  subjects.  Owing  to  the  energetic  zeal  of 
Abba-Mari,  the  interdict  of  Ben  Adret,  and  the  pro- 
nounced aversion  of  Asheri,  reasoning  had  fallen 
into  disrepute  and  decay.  The  truly  orthodox 
shunned  contact  with  philosophy  as  the  direct  route 
to  heresy  and  infidelity,  and  pseudo-pious  people 
behaved  in  a  yet  more  prudish  fashion  towards  it. 
It  required  courage  to  engage  in  a  study  inviting 
contempt  and  accusations  of  heresy.  The  Kabbala, 
too,  had  done  its  work,  in  dimming  the  eyes  of  men 
by  its  illusions.  There  were  but  few  representa- 
tives of  a  philosophical  conception  of  Judaism  in 
those  days ;  these  were  Isaac  Pulgar,  of  Avila, 
David  Ibn-Albilla  of  Portugal,  and  Joseph  Kaspi  of 
Argentiere,  in  southern  France. 

Levi  ben  Gerson,  or  Leon  de  Bagnols,  was  more 
renowned  and  more  talented  than  any  of  these.  He 
was  also  called  Leo  the  Hebrew,  but  more  usually 
by  his  literary  name  Gersonides  (born  1288,  died 
about  1345).  He  belonged  to  a  family  of  scholars, 
and  among  his  ancestors  he  reckoned  that  Levi  of 
Villefranche  who  had  indirectly  caused  the  prohibi- 
tion of  scientific  study.  In  spite  of  the  interdict  of 
Ben  Adret  forbidding  the  instruction  of  youths  in 
science,  Gersonides  was  initiated  into  it  at  a  very 
early  age,  and  before  he  had  reached  his  thirtieth 
year  he  was  at  work  at  a  comprehensive  and  pro- 
found work  upon  philosophy.  Gersonides  was 
gifted  with  a  versatile  and  profound  intellect,  and 
averse  to  all  superficiality  and  incompleteness.  In 
astronomy  he  corrected  his  predecessors,  and  made 
such  accurate  observations  that  specialists   based 


their  calculations  upon  them.  He  invented  an 
instrument  by  means  of  which  observations  of  the 
heavens  could  be  made  more  certain.  This  discov- 
ery filled  him  with  such  ecstasy  that  he  composed  a 
Hebrew  poem,  a  kind  of  riddle,  upon  it,  though  he 
was  an  unpoetical  man,  and  had  his  head  filled  with 
dry  calculations  and  logical  conclusions.  He  also 
wrote  works  upon  the  science  of  medicine,  and  dis- 
covered new  remedies.  At  the  same  time  he  was 
held  in  very  high  repute  by  his  contemporaries  as 
a  profound  Talmudist,  and  inspired  by  his  love  for 
systematic  arrangement,  wrote  a  methodology  of 
the  Mishna. 

Maestro  Leon  de  Bagnols,  as  he  was  called  as  a 
physician,  fortunately  did  not  belong  to  the  Jews  of 
France  proper:  he  successively  lived  in  Orange, 
Perpignan,  and  in  Avignon,  at  this  time  the  home  of 
popedom.  Therefore,  he  had  not  been  a  sufferer 
in  the  expulsion  of  his  co-religionists  from  this  land  ; 
but  his  heart  bled  at  the  sight  of  the  sufferings  which 
the  exiles  were  made  to  undergo.  He  moreover 
escaped  from  the  effects  of  the  rising  of  the  Shep- 
herds, and  the  subsequent  bitter  calamities.  At 
about  the  same  time,  his  fertile  powers  of  production 
began  to  put  forth  fruit,  and  he  began  the  series  of 
writings  which  continued  for  more  than  twenty  years 
(132 1 — 1343).  None  of  his  writings  created  such  a 
sensation  as  his  work  on  the  philosophy  of  religion 
(Milchamoth  Adonai).  In  this  he  set  forth  the 
boldest  metaphysical  thoughts  with  philosophical 
calmness  and  independence,  as  if  paying  no  heed  to 
the  fact  that  by  his  departure  from  the  hitherto  re- 
ceived notions  upon  these  questions,  he  was  laying 
himself  open  to  the  charges  of  heresy  and  heter- 
odoxy. *Tf  my  observations  are  correct,"  he  re- 
marked, "then  all  blame  leveled  against  me,  I 
regard  as  praise."  Leon  de  Bagnols  belonged  to 
a  class  of  thinkers  seldom  met  with,  who,  with 
majestic  brow,  seek  truth  for  its  own  intrinsic  value, 


without  reference  to  other  ends  and  results  which 
might  cause  conflict.  Levi  ben  Gerson  thus  ex- 
pressed his  opinion  upon  this  subject :  Truth  must 
be  brought  out  and  placed  beneath  the  glare  of  open 
daylight,  even  if  it  should  contradict  the  Torah  in 
the  strongest  possible  manner.  The  Torah  is  no 
tyrannical  law,  which  desires  to  force  one  to  accept 
untruth  as  truth,  on  the  contrary,  it  seeks  to  lead 
man  to  a  true  understanding  of  things.  If  the  truth 
arrived  at  by  investigation  is  in  harmony  with  the 
utterances  of  the  Bible,  then  so  much  the  better. 
In  his  independence  of  thought,  the  only  parallel  to 
Gersonides  among  Jewish  inquirers  is  Spinoza.  Un- 
like many  of  his  predecessors,  he  would  not  look 
upon  science  as  a  body  of  occult  doctrines  designed 
for  an  inner  circle  of  the  initiated.  He  moreover 
refused  to  follow  slavishly  the  authorities  in  philos- 
ophy regarded  as  infallible.  He  propounded  in- 
dependent views  in  opposition  not  only  to  Maimuni 
and  Averroes,  but  also  to  Aristotle.  Leon  de  Bag- 
nols  did  not  establish  a  perfect  and  thoroughly 
organized  system  of  the  philosophy  of  religion,  but 
treated  of  the  difficulties  which  interested  the  think- 
ers of  the  age  more  incisively  than  any  of  his  pre- 

In  spite  of  his  great  ability,  Gersonides  exercised 
very  little  influence  apon  Judaism.  By  the  pious, 
he  was  denounced  as  a  heretic,  because  of  his  inde- 
pendent research,  and  his  ambiguous  attitude 
towards  the  doctrine  of  the  creation.  They  took 
the  title  of  his  chief  work,  "The  Battles  of  the 
Lord,"  to  mean  "  Battles  against  the  Lord."  So 
much  the  warmer  was  his  reception  by  Christian  in- 
quirers after  truth.  Pope  Clement  VI,  during  the 
lifetime  of  the  author,  commanded  his  treatise  upon 
astronomy  and  the  newly-invented  instrument  to  be 
translated  into  Latin  (1342). 

Of  a  similar  nature  was  another  representative  of 
philosophical  Judaism  of  this  age,  Moses  ben  Joshua 


Narboni,  also  called  Maestro  Vidal  (born  about 
1300,  died  1362).  His  father  Joshua,  who  belonged 
to  a  family  in  Narbonne,  but  resided  in  Perpignan, 
was  so  warmly  interested  in  Jewish,  that  is  to  say 
Maimunistic,  philosophy,  that  in  spite  of  the  inter- 
dict hurled  against  all  who  studied  the  subject,  he 
instructed  his  son  therein  when  he  was  thirteen 
years  old.  Vidal  Narboni  became  an  enthusiastic 
student.  He  divided  his  admiration  between 
Maimuni  and  Averroes,  his  writings  consisting 
chiefly  of  commentaries  upon  their  works.  His 
travels  from  the  foot  of  the  Pyrenees  to  Toledo 
and  back  again  to  Soria  (1345 — 1362)  enriched 
and  amended  his  knowledge.  He  was  interested 
in  anything  worth  knowing,  and  made  obser- 
vations with  great  accuracy.  No  calamities  or 
troubles  succeeded  in  damping  his  zeal  in  the  in- 
quiry after  truth.  In  consequence  of  the  Black 
Death,  an  infuriated  mob  fell  upon  the  community 
at  Cervera.  Vidal  Narboni  was  compelled  to  take 
to  flight  with  the  rest  of  the  congregation  ;  he  lost 
his  possessions,  and,  what  was  more  painful  to  him, 
his  precious  books.  These  misfortunes  did  not  dis- 
turb him  ;  he  took  up  the  thread  of  his  work  where 
it  had  been  interrupted.  He  accomplished  no 
entirely  independent  or  original  work  ;  he  was  a 
true  Aristotelian  of  Averroist  complexion.  Nar- 
boni conceived  Judaism  as  a  guide  to  the  highest 
degree  of  theoretical  and  moral  truth:  the  Torah 
has  a  double  meaning — the  one  simple,  direct,  for 
the  thoughtless  mob,  and  the  other  of  a  deeper, 
metaphysical  nature  for  the  class  of  thinkers — a 
common  opinion  in  those  times,  Gersonides  alone 
demurring.  Narboni,  too,  gave  expression  to  he- 
retical views,  that  is,  such  as  are  contrary  to  the 
ordinarily  accepted  understanding  of  Judaism,  but 
not  with  the  freedom  and  openness  of  Levi  ben 
Gerson.  He  rejected  the  belief  in  miracles,  and 
attempted  to  explain  them  away  altogether,  but  de- 

CH.  IIL  AARON    BEN    ELJA.  9$ 

fended  man's  freedom  of  will  by  philosophical  argu- 
ments. Death  overtook  him  in  the  very  midst  of 
his  labors  when,  advanced  in  years,  he  was  on  the 
point  of  returning  to  his  native  land  from  Soria,  on 
the  other  side  of  the  Pyrenees,  where  he  had  spent 
several  years. 

Though  the  Karaite,  Aaron  ben  Elia  Nicomedi, 
may  be  reckoned  among  the  philosophers  of  this  time, 
he  can  scarcely  be  admitted  into  the  company  of  Levi 
ben  Gerson  and  the  other  Provencal  thinkers.  His 
small  stock  of  philosophical  knowledge  was  a  matter 
of  erudition,  not  the  result  of  independent  thought. 
Aaron  II,  of  Nicomedia  (in  Asia  Minor,  born  about 
1300,  died  1369),  who  probably  lived  in  Cairo,  was 
indeed  superior  to  his  ignorant  brother  Karaites, 
but  several  centuries  behind  the  Rabbanite  philoso- 
phers. His  thoughts  sound  like  a  voice  from  the 
grave,  or  as  of  one  who  has  slumbered  for  many 
years,  and  speaks  the  language  of  antiquity,  not 
understood  by  the  men  of  his  own  day. 

Aaron  ben  Elia  was  not  even  able  to  indicate  the 
end  aimed  at  by  his  work,  "The  Tree  of  Life." 
Without  being  himself  fully  conscious  of  his  motives, 
he  was  guided  in  its  composition  by  jealous  rivalry 
of  Maimuni  and  the  Rabbanites.  It  vexed  him  sorely 
that  Maimuni's  religious  philosophical  work,  "  The 
Guide,"  was  perused  and  admired  not  only  by  Jews, 
but  also  by  Christians  and  Mahometans,  whilst  the 
Karaites  had  nothing  like  it.  Aaron  desired  to  save 
the  honor  of  the  Karaites  by  his  "Tree  of  Life." 
He  sought  to  detract  from  the  merits  of  the  work  of 
Maimuni,  and  remarked  that  some  of  the  statements 
to  be  found  in  the  book  had  been  made  by  Karaite 
philosophers  of  religion.  Notwithstanding  this,  he 
followed  Maimuni  most  minutely,  and  treated  only 
of  those  questions  which  the  latter  had  raised  ;  but 
he  sought  to  solve  them  not  by  the  aid  of  philos- 
ophy, but  by  the  authority  of  the  Bible. 

The  history  of   this  period,  when  dealing  with 


events  in  Germany,  has  nothing  but  calamities  to 
record  :  bloody  assaults,  massacres,  and  the  conse- 
quent intellectual  poverty.  Asheri  and  his  sons 
were  either  deluded  or  unjust  when  they  preferred 
bigoted  Germany  to  Spain,  at  that  time  still  tolera- 
ble, and  cast  longing  looks  thitherwards  frorn  Toledo. 
From  the  time  of  Asheri' s  departure  till  the  middle 
of  the  century,  misfortune  followed  upon  misfortune, 
till  nearly  all  the  congregations  were  exterminated. 
On  account  of  this  state  of  affairs,  even  the  study 
of  the  Talmud,  the  only  branch  of  learning  pursued 
in  Germany  with  ardor  and  thoroughness,  fell  into 
decay.  How  could  the  Germans  gather  intellectual 
strength,  when  they  were  not  certain  about  one 
moment  of  their  lives,  or  their  means  of  sustenance? 
Their  state  in  a  most  literal  way  realized  the  pro- 
phetical threat  of  punishment:  "Thy  life  shall  hang 
in  doubt  before  thee  ;  and  thou  shalt  fear  day  and 
night.  In  the  morning  thou  shalt  say.  Would  God 
it  were  even  !  and  at  even  thou  shalt  say.  Would 
God  it  were  morning !  for  the  fear  of  thine  heart 
wherewith  thou  shalt  fear."  Emperor  Louis,  the 
Bavarian,  is  reported  to  have  been  favorably  in- 
clined towards  the  Jews,  which  is  said  to  have  made 
them  proud.  But  this  is  idle  calumny  both  against 
the  emperor  and  the  Jews.  No  German  ruler  before 
him  had  treated  his  "  servi  camerae "  so  badly, 
pawned  them  and  sold  them,  as  Louis  the  Bavarian. 
He  also  imposed  a  new  tax  upon  the  Jews,  the 
so-called  golden  gift-pence.  As  the  emperors  had 
gradually  pawned  all  the  revenues  derived  from 
their  "servi  camerae"  to  enable  them  to  satisfy 
their  immediate  necessity  for  money,  Louis  the 
Bavarian  was  driven  to  cogitate  upon  some  new 
means  of  obtaining  supplies  from  them.  He  pro- 
mulgated a  decree  (about  1342),  which  commanded 
that  every  Jew  and  Jewess  in  the  German  Empire 
above  the  age  of  twelve,  and  possessed  of  at  least 
more  than  twenty  florins,  should  pay  annually  to 


the  king  or  the  emperor  a  poll-tax  of  a  florin.  He 
probably  derived  his  right,  if,  indeed,  the  question 
of  right  was  considered  in  reference  to  the  treat- 
ment of  Jews,  from  the  fact  that  the  German  em- 
perors were  in  possession  of  all  the  prerogatives 
once  claimed  by  those  of  Rome.  As  the  Jews, 
since  the  days  of  Vespasian  and  Titus,  had  been 
compelled  to  pay  a  yearly  tax  to  the  Roman  em- 
perors, the  German  rulers  declared  themselves  the 
direct  heirs  to  this  golden  gift-pence. 

Hitherto  the  massacres  of  Jews  in  Germany  had 
taken  place  only  at  intervals,  and  in  a  few  places ; 
but  now,  under  the  reign  of  Louis,  owing  to  riots 
and  civil  wars,  they  became  much  more  frequent 
During  two  consecutive  years  (1336 — 1337),  a  regu- 
larly organized  band  of  peasants  and  rabble,  who 
called  themselves  "  the  beaters  of  the  Jews,"  made 
fierce  attacks  upon  them  with  unbridled  fury  and 
heartless  cruelty.  Two  dissolute  noblemen  w^ere  at 
the  head  of  this  troop  ;  they  gave  themselves  the 
name  of  Kings  Leather-arm  (Armleder)  from  a  piece 
of  leather  which  they  wore  wound  round  the  arm. 
In  this  persecution,  as  in  that  of  Rindfleisch,  the  fan- 
aticism and  blind  superstition  inculcated  by  the 
church  played  an  important  part  One  of  the 
Leather-arms  announced  that  he  had  received  a  di- 
vine revelation  which  directed  him  to  visit  upon  the 
Jews  the  martyrdom  and  the  wounds  which  Jesus 
had  suffered,  and  to  avenge  his  crucifixion  by  their 
blood.  Such  a  summons  to  arms  seldom  remained 
unanswered  in  Germany.  Five  thousand  peasants, 
armed  with  pitchforks,  axes,  flails,  pikes,  and  what- 
ever other  weapons  they  could  lay  hands  upon, 
gathered  around  the  Leather-arms,  and  inflicted  a 
bloody  slaughter  upon  the  Jewish  inhabitants  of  Al- 
sace and  the  Rhineland  as  far  as  Suabia.  As 
frequently  happened  during  such  barbarous  perse- 
cutions, numbers  of  Jews,  on  this  occasion  also,  put 
an  end  to  their  own  lives,  after  having  slain  theii* 


children  to  prevent  their  falling  Into  the  hands  of 
the  Church.  Emperor  Louis  the  Bavarian  did  in- 
deed issue  commands  to  protect  the  heretic  Jews 
(April,  1337),  but  his  help  came  too  late,  or  was  of 
little  effect.  At  length  the  emperor  succeeded  in 
capturing  one  of  the  Leather-arms,  whom  he  ordered 
to  be  executed. 

At  about  the  same  time  a  bloody  persecution, 
prompted  by  the  frenzy  of  avarice,  was  set  on  foot 
in  Bavaria.  The  councilors  of  the  city  of  Decken- 
dorf  (or  Deggendorf)  desired  to  free  themselves 
and  all  the  citizens  from  their  debts  to  the  Jews,  and 
enrich  themselves  besides.  To  carry  out  this  plan, 
the  fable  of  the  desecration  of  the  host  by  the  Jews, 
with  the  accompaniment  of  the  usual  miracles,  was 
spread  abroad.  When  the  populace  had  been  incited 
to  a  state  of  fanatical  frenzy,  the  council  proceeded 
to  execute  the  project  which  it  had  secretly  matured 
outside  the  town,  so  as  not  to  arouse  any  suspicion 
among  the  Jews.  On  the  appointed  day  (30th  Sep- 
tember, 1337),  at  a  signal  from  the  church  bell,  the 
knight  Hartmann  von  Deggenburg,  who  had  been 
initiated  in  the  conspiracy,  rode  with  his  band  of 
horsemen  through  the  open  gates  into  Deckendorf, 
and  was  received  with  loud  rejoicing.  The  knight 
and  the  citizens  thereupon  fell  upon  the  defenseless 
Jews,  put  them  to  death  by  sword  and  fire,  and  pos- 
sessed themselves  of  their  property.  In  honor  of 
the  miracles  performed  by  the  host  that  had  been 
pierced  by  the  knives  of  the  Jews,  a  church  of  the 
Holy  Sepulcher  was  erected,  and  appointed  as  a 
shrine  for  pilgrims ;  and  the  puncheons  which  the 
Jews  had  used,  together  with  the  insulted  host,  were 
placed  beneath  a  glass  case,  and  guarded  as  relics. 
For  many  centuries  they  were  displayed  for  the  edi- 
fication of  the  faithful, — perhaps  are  still  displayed. 
The  lust  for  slaughter  spread  abroad  into  Bavaria, 
Bohemia,  Moravia,  and  Austria.  Thousands  of 
Jews  perished   by   different  forms  of  torture  and 


death.  Only  the  citizens  of  Vienna  and  Ratisbon 
protected  their  Jewish  inhabitants  against  the  infuri- 
ated mob.  The  friendly  efforts  of  Pope  Benedictus 
XII  were  of  little  avail  against  the  brutal  spirit  of 
the  then  Christian  world. 



Rise  of  the  False  Accusation  against  Jews  of  Poisoning  the  Wells- 
Massacres  in  Southern  France  and  Catalonia — The  Friendly 
Bull  of  Pope  Clement  VI — Terrible  Massacres  in  all  Parts  of  Ger- 
many— Confessions  wrung  from  the  Jews  on  the  Rack — The 
Flagellants  as  a  Scourge  for  the  Jews — King  Casimir  of  Poland 
— Persecution  in  Brussels — The  Black  Death  in  Spain — Don 
Pedro  the  Cruel  and  the  Jews — Santob  de  Carrion  and  Samuel 
Abulafia — Fall  of  Don  Pedro  and  its  Consequences  for  the  Jews 
— Return  of  the  Jews  to  France  and  Germany — The  "  Golden 
Bull" — Manessier  de  Vesoul — Matathiah  Meir  Halevi — Synod 
at  Mayence. 

1348 — 1380  C.E. 

The  assistance  of  the  pope  was  of  very  little  use  to 
the  Jews,  and  the  protection  of  the  German  emperor 
was  like  the  support  of  a  broken  reed.  Within  ten 
years  they  learned  this  comfortless  experience ;  for 
soon  came  most  mournful  days  for  the  Jewish  com- 
munities in  most  parts  of  Europe  where  the  cross 
held  sway,  to  which  the  slaughter  by  the  Leather- 
arms  and  the  brutal  atrocities  of  Deckendorf  were 
but  a  weak  prelude. 

The  glimpse  of  good  fortune  which  the  Spanish 
Jews  enjoyed  under  Alfonso  XI  served  only  to 
bring  down  upon  their  brethren  in  the  other  Christian 
countries  a  widespread,  intense,  indescribably  cruel 
persecution  with  which  none  of  the  massacres  that 
had  hitherto  taken  place  can  be  compared.  The 
destroying  angel  called  the  Black  Death,  which 
carried  on  its  ravages  for  over  three  years,  made 
its  way  from  China  across  lands  and  seas  into  the 
heart  of  Europe,  heralded  by  premonitory  earth- 
quakes and  other  terrifying  natural  phenomena. 
Sparing  neither  rank  nor  age,  it  left  a  devastated 
track  behind,  sweeping  away  a  fourth  part  of  all 
mankind  (nearly  25,000,000)  as  with  a  poison-laden 

CH.  IV.  THE    BLACK    DEATH.  lOI 

breath  and  stifling  every  noble  impulse.  In  Europe 
the  invisible  Death  with  its  horrors  turned  the  Chris- 
tians into  veritable  destroying  angels  for  the  Jews. 
Those  whom  the  epidemic  had  spared  were  handed 
over  to  torture,  the  sword,  or  the  stake.  Whilst 
neither  Mahometans  nor  Mongols  who  suffered  from 
the  plague  attacked  the  Jews,  Christian  peoples 
charged  the  unhappy  race  with  being  the  originators 
of  the  pestilence,  and  slaughtered  them  e7i  masse. 
The  church  had  so  often  and  impressively  preached 
that  infidels  were  to  be  destroyed  ;  that  Jews  were 
worse  than  heretics,  even  worse  than  unbelieving 
heathens  ;  that  they  were  the  murderers  of  Chris- 
tians and  the  slayers  of  children,  that  at  last  its  true 
sons  believed  what  was  said,  and  carried  its  doctrines 
into  effect.  Owing  to  the  prevailing  misery,  disci- 
pline and  order,  obedience  and  submissiveness  were 
at  an  end,  and  each  man  was  thrown  upon  his  own 
resources.  Under  these  circumstances,  the  effects 
of  the  education  of  the  church  appeared  in  a  most 
hideous  form.  The  Black  Death  had  indeed  made 
itself  felt  among  Jews  also  ;  but  the  plague  had 
visited  them  in  a  comparatively  milder  form  than  the 
Christians,  probably  on  account  of  their  greater 
moderation,  and  the  very  careful  attention  paid  their 
sick.  Thus  the  suspicion  arose  that  the  Jews  had 
poisoned  the  brooks  and  wells,  and  even  the  air,  in 
order  to  annihilate  the  Christians  of  every  country 
at  one  blow. 

It  was  charged  that  the  Spanish  Jews,  supposed 
to  be  in  possession  of  great  power  and  influence 
over  the  congregations  of  Europe,  had  hit  upon  this 
diabolical  scheme  ;  that  they  had  dispatched  mes- 
sengers far  and  wide  with  boxes  containing  poison, 
and  by  threats  of  excommunication  had  coerced  the 
other  Jews  to  aid  in  carrying  out  their  plans,  and 
that  these  directions  issued  from  Toledo,  which 
might  be  viewed  as  the  Jewish  capital.  The  infatu- 
ated populace  went  so  far  as  to  name  the  man  who 


had  delivered  these  orders  and  the  poison.  It  was 
Jacob  Pascate,  said  they,  from  Toledo,  who  had  set- 
tled in  Chambery  (in  Savoy),  from  which  as  a  center 
he  had  sent  out  a  troop  of  Jewish  poisoners  into  all 
countries  and  cities.  This  Jacob,  together  with  a 
Rabbi  Peyret,  of  Chambery,  and  a  rich  Jew,  Aboget, 
was  said  to  have  dealt  largely  in  the  manufacture 
and  sale  of  poisons.  The  poison,  prepared  by  the 
Jewish  doctors  of  the  black  art  in  Spain,  was  re- 
ported to  be  concocted  from  the  flesh  of  a  basilisk, 
or  from  spiders,  frogs  and  lizards,  or  from  the  hearts 
of  Christians  and  the  dough  of  the  consecrate^l 
wafers.  These  and  similar  silly  stories  invented  by 
ignorant,  or,  perhaps,  malicious  people,  and  distorted 
and  exaggerated  by  the  heated  imagination,  were 
credited  not  alone  by  the  ignorant  mob,  but  even  by 
the  higher  classes.  The  courts  of  justice  earnestly 
strove  to  learn  the  real  truth  of  these  rumors,  and 
employed  the  means  for  confirming  a  suspicion  used 
by  the  Christians  of  the  Middle  Ages  with  especial 
skill — torture  in  every  possible  form. 

As  far  as  can  be  ascertained,  these  tales  concern- 
ing the  poisoning  of  the  brooks  and  wells  by  Jews 
first  found  credence  in  southern  France,  where 
the  Black  Death  as  early  as  the  beginning  of  the 
year  1348  had  obtained  many  victims.  In  a  certain 
town  of  southern  France,  on  one  day  (the  middle 
of  the  month  of  May),  the  whole  Jewish  congrega- 
tion, men,  women,  and  children,  together  with  their 
holy  writings,  were  cast  into  the  flames.  From  that 
place  the  slaughter  spread  to  Catalonia  and  Aragon. 
In  these  provinces,  in  the  same  year,  anarchy  was 
rife,  because  the  nobles  and  people  had  revolted 
against  the  king,  Don  Pedro,  in  order  to  secure  cer- 
tain of  their  privileges  against  the  encroachments 
of  the  monarch.  When  the  tales  of  the  poisoning 
of  the  wells  had  taken  firm  root  in  the  minds  of  the 
people  of  these  countries  also,  the  inhabitants  of 
Barcelona  gathered  together  on  a  Saturday  (towards 


the  end  of  June),  slew  about  twenty  persons,  and 
pillaged  the  Jewish  houses.  The  most  distinguished 
men  of  the  city  received  the  persecuted  people 
under  their  protection,  and  aided  by  a  terrible  storm, 
loud  thunder  and  flashes  of  lightning,  they  made  a 
successful  attack  upon  the  deluded  or  plunder-seek- 
ing assailants  of  the  Jews. 

A  few  days  later  the  community  at  Cervera  was 
attacked  in  a  similar  manner,  eighteen  of  its  mem- 
bers killed,  and  the  rest  compelled  to  flee.     The 
Jewish  philosopher,  Vidal  Narboni,  happened  to  be 
in  the  town,  and  in  the  assault  he  lost  his  posses- 
sions and   his   books.     All    the   congregations   of 
northern  Spain  knew  themselves  in  danger  of  being 
attacked ;  they  instituted  public  fasts,  implored  mercy 
from  heaven,  and  barricaded  those  of  their  quarters 
which  were  surrounded  by  walls.     In  Aragon,  how- 
ever, the  higher  classes  came  to  the  help  of  the  Jews. 
Pope  Clement  VI,  who  had  taken  so  much  interest 
in  the  astronomical  works  of  Gersonides,  and  who, 
terrified  at  the  approach  of  death,  had  shut  himself 
up  in  his  room,  still  felt  for  the  sufferings  of  an  in- 
nocent,  persecuted  people.     He  issued  a  bull   in 
which,  under  pain  of  excommunication,  he  prohibited 
anyone  from  killing  the  Jews  without  proper  judicial 
sentence,  or  from  dragging  them  by  force  to  be 
baptized,  or  from  despoiling  them  of  their  goods 
(the  beginning  of  July).     This  bull  was  probably 
of  some  use  in  southern  France,  but  in  the  other 
parts  of  the  Christian  world  it  produced  no  effect. 
One   country   followed    the   example   of    another. 
The   ideally   beautiful    region    surrounding    Lake 
Geneva  next  became  the  scene  of  a  most  frightful 
pe*-secution.     At  the  command  of  Amadeus,  duke 
of  Savoy  at  that  time,  several  Jews  suspected  of 
poisoning  were   arrested   and   imprisoned    in  two 
small  towns,  Chillon  and  Chatel,  on  Lake  Geneva, 
A  commission  of  judges  was  appointed  to  inquire 
into  the  charges  brought  against  the  prisoners,  and, 


if  convicted,  they  were  to  be  severely  punished.  In 
this  country,  then,  a  prince  and  his  tribunal  believed 
the  preposterous  fable  of  the  poisoning  by  Jews. 
On  the  Day  of  Atonement  (15th  September,  1348), 
three  Jews  and  a  Jewess  in  Chillon  were  made  to 
undergo  torture :  the  surgeon  Valavigny,  from 
Thonon,  Bandito  and  Mamson,  from  Ville-Neuve, 
and,  three  weeks  later,  Bellieta  and  her  son  Aquet. 
In  their  pain  and  despair,  they  told  the  names  of 
the  persons  from  whom  they  had  received  the  poison, 
and  admitted  that  they  had  scattered  it  in  different 
spots  near  wells  and  brooks.  They  denounced 
themselves,  their  co-religionists,  their  parents  and 
their  children  as  guilty.  Ten  days  later  the  merci- 
less judges  again  applied  the  torture  to  the  enfee- 
bled woman  and  her  son,  and  they  vied  with  each 
other  in  their  revelations.  In  Chastelard  five  Jews 
were  put  to  the  torture,  and  they  made  equally 
incredible  confessions  of  guilt.  Aquet  made  the 
wild  statement  that  he  had  placed  poison  in 
Venice,  in  Apulia  and  Calabria,  and  in  Toulouse, 
in  France.  The  secretaries  took  down  all  these 
confessions  in  writing,  and  they  were  verified  by 
the  signatures  of  their  authors.  To  remove  all 
doubts  concerning  their  trustworthiness,  the  crafty 
judges  added  that  the  victims  were  only  very  lightly 
tortured.  In  consequence  of  these  disclosures,  not 
only  the  accused  who  acknowledged  their  crime, 
but  all  the  Jews  in  the  region  of  Lake  Geneva  and 
in  Savoy  were  burnt  at  the  stake. 

The  report  of  the  demonstrated  guilt  of  the  Jews 
rapidly  made  its  way  from  Geneva  into  Switzerland, 
and  here  scenes  of  blood  of  the  same  horrible 
description  were  soon  witnessed.  The  consuls  of 
Berne  sent  for  the  account  of  the  proceedings  of 
the  courts  of  justice  at  Chillon  and  Chastelard,  They 
then  put  certain  Jews  to  the  torture,  extracted  con- 
fessions from  them,  and  kindled  the  funeral  pyre 
for  all  the  Jews  (September). 


The  annihilation  of  the  Jews  on  the  charge  of 
poisoning  was  now  systematically  carried  out,  begin- 
ning with  Berne  and  Zofingen  (canton  Aargau). 
The  consuls  of  Berne  addressed  letters  to  Basle, 
Freiburg,  Strasburg,  Cologne,  and  many  other 
places,  with  the  announcement  that  the  Jews  had 
been  found  guilty  of  the  crime  imputed  to  them ; 
and  also  sent  a  Jew,  bound  in  chains,  under  convoy, 
to  Cologne,  that  every  one  might  be  convinced 
of  the  diabolical  plans  of  the  Jews.  In  Zurich  the 
charge  of  poisoning  the  wells  was  raised  together 
with  that  of  the  murder  of  a  Christian  child.  There, 
also,  those  who  appeared  to  be  guilty  were  burnt  at 
the  stake,  the  rest  of  the  community  expelled  from 
the  town,  and  a  law  passed  forbidding  them  ever  to 
return  thither  (21st  September).  The  persecution 
of  the  Jews  extended  northwards  with  the  pestilence. 
Like  the  communities  around  Lake  Geneva,  Jews 
in  the  cities  surrounding  Lake  Constance,  in  St. 
Gall,  Lindau,  UeberHngen,  Schaffhausen,  Constance 
(Costnitz),  and  others,  were  burnt  at  the  stake,  put 
to  the  wheel,  or  sentenced  to  expulsion  or  compul- 
sory baptism.  Once  again  Pope  Clement  VI  took 
up  the  cause  of  the  Jews  ;  he  published  a  bull  to  the 
whole  of  Catholic  Christendom,  in  which  he  declared 
the  innocence  of  the  Jews  regarding  the  charge 
leveled  against  them.  He  produced  all  possible 
reasons  to  show  the  absurdity  of  the  accusation, 
stating  that  in  districts  where  no  Jew  lived  the 
people  were  visited  by  the  pestilence,  and  that  Jews 
also  suffered  from  its  terrible  effects.  It  was  of  no 
avail  that  he  admonished  the  clergy  to  take  the  Jews 
under  their  protection,  and  that  he  placed  the  false 
accusers  and  the  murderers  under  the  ban  (Septem- 
ber) .  The  child  had  become  more  powerful  than  its 
parent,  wild  fancy  stronger  than  the  papacy. 

Nowhere  was  the  destruction  of  the  Jews  prose- 
cuted with  more  thoroughness  and  more  intense 
hatred  than  in  the   Holy  Roman  Empire.     In  vain 


the  newly-elected  emperor,  Charles  IV,  of  Luxem- 
burg, issued  letter  after  letter  forbidding  the  persons 
of  the  Jews,  his  "servi  camerse,"  to  be  touched. 
Even  had  he  possessed  more  power  in  Germany,  he 
would  not  have  found  the  German  people  willing  to 
spare  the  Jews.  The  Germans  did  not  commit  their 
fearful  outrages  upon  the  Jews  merely  for  the  sake 
of  plunder,  although  a  straightforward  historian  of 
that  epoch,  Clpsener  of  Strasburg,  remarks  that 
"their  goods  were  the  poison  which  caused  the 
death  of  the  Jews."  Sheer  stupidity  made  them 
believe  that  Jews  had  poisoned  the  wells  and  rivers. 
The  councils  of  various  towns  ordered  that  the 
springs  and  wells  be  walled  in,  so  that  the  citizens 
be  not  poisoned,  and  they  had  to  drink  rain  water 
or  melted  snow.  Was  it  not  just  that  the  Jews,  the 
cause  of  this  evil,  should  suffer? 

There  were  some  too  sensible  to  share  the  delu- 
sion that  the  Jews  were  the  cause  of  the  great 
mortality.  These  few  men  deserve  a  place  in 
history,  for,  despite  their  danger,  they  could  feel 
and  act  humanely.  In  the  municipal  council  of 
Strasburg,  the  burgomaster  Conrad  (Kunze)  of 
Wintertur,  the  sheriff,  Gosse  Sturm,  and  the  master 
workman,  Peter  Swaber,  took  great  trouble  to  prove 
the  Jews  innocent  of  the  crimes  laid  at  their  door, 
and  defended  them  against  the  fanatical  attack  of 
the  mob  and  even  against  the  bishop.  The  coun- 
cilors of  Basle  and  Freiburg  likewise  took  the  part 
of  the  unhappy  people.  The  council  of  Cologne 
wrote  to  the  representatives  of  Strasburg  that  it 
would  follow  the  example  of  the  latter  town  with 
regard  to  the  Jews ;  for  it  was  convinced  that  the 
pestilence  was  to  be  considered  as  a  visitation  from 
God.  It  would,  therefore,  not  permit  the  Jews  to 
be  persecuted  on  account  of  groundless  reports,  but 
would  protect  them  with  all  its  power,  as  in  former 
times.  In  Basle,  however,  the  guilds  and  a  mob 
rose    in    rebellion    against    the    council,    repaired 


with  their  flags  to  the  city  hall,  insisted  that  the 
patricians  who  had  been  banished  on  account  of 
their  action  against  the  Jews,  should  be  recalled, 
and  the  Jews  banished  from  the  city.  The  coun- 
cil was  compelled  to  comply  with  the  first  demand  ; 
as  to  the  second,  it  deferred  its  decision  until  a 
day  of  public  meeting,  when  this  matter  was  to 
be  considered.  In  Benfelden  (Alsace)  a  council 
was  actually  held  to  consider  the  course  to  be  fol- 
lowed with  regard  to  Jews.  There  were  present 
Bishop  Berthold  of  Strasburg,  barons,  lords,  and 
representatives  of  the  towns.  The  representatives 
of  Strasburg  bravely  maintained  the  cause  of  the 
Jews,  even  against  the  bishop,  who  either  from 
malice  or  stupidity  was  in  favor  of  their  complete 
destruction.  Although  they  repeatedly  demonstrated 
that  the  Jews  could  not  be  the  cause  of  the  pesti- 
lence, they  were  out-voted,  and  it  was  decided  to 
banish  the  Jews  from  all  the  cities  on  the  upper 
Rhine  (towards  the  close  of  1348). 

The  Jews  of  Alsace,  through  the  decision  of 
Benfelden,  were  declared  outlaws,  and  were  either 
expelled  from  the  various  places  they  visited,  or 
burnt.  A  hard  fate  overtook  the  community  of 
Basle.  On  an  island  of  the  Rhine,  in  a  house 
especially  built  for  the  purpose,  they  were  burnt  to 
death  (January  9th,  1349),  and  it  was  decided  that 
within  the  next  two  hundred  years  no  Jew  should 
be  permitted  to  settle  in  that  city.  A  week  later 
all  the  Jews  of  Freiburg  were  burnt  at  the  stake 
with  the  exception  of  twelve  of  the  richest  men, 
who  were  permitted  to  live  that  they  might  disclose 
the  names  of  their  creditors,  for  the  property  of  the 
victims  fell  to  the  community.  The  community  of 
Speyer  was  the  first  sacrifice  amongst  the  communi- 
ties of  the  Rhineland.  The  mob  rose  up  and  killed 
several  Jews,  others  burning  themselves  in  their 
houses,  and  some  going  over  to  Christianity.  The 
council  of  Speyer  took  the  property  of  the  Jews, 


and  confiscated  their  estates  in  the  neighborhood. 
The  council  of  Strasburg  remained  firm  in  its  pro- 
tection of  the  Jews,  sending  out  numerous  letters 
to  obtain  proofs  of  their  innocence.  But  from  many- 
sides  came  unfavorable  testimony.  The  council  of 
Zahringen  said  that  it  was  in  possession  of  the 
poison  the  Jews  had  scattered.  When  tried  it  proved 
fatal  to  animals.  The  council  would  not  let  it  go 
out  of  its  hands,  but  would  show  it  to  a  messenger. 

A  castellan  of  Chillon  had  the  confessions  of  the 
Jews  tortured  in  the  district  of  Lake  Geneva  copied, 
and  sent  them  to  the  council  of  Strasburg.  Only 
the  council  of  Cologne  encouraged  Wintertur  to 
support  the  cause  of  the  Jews,  and  to  take  no  notice 
of  the  demands  of  their  enemies.  At  length  the 
trade-guilds  rose  against  Wintertur  and  his  two 
colleagues,  who  were  deposed  from  office.  A  new 
council  was  chosen  that  favored  the  persecutions  of 
the  Jews.  In  the  end,  the  entire  community  of 
Strasburg — 2,000  souls — were  imprisoned.  The 
following  day,  on  a  Sabbath  (14th  February,  1349), 
they  were  all  dragged  to  the  burial  ground.  Stakes 
were  erected,  and  they  were  burnt  to  death.  Only 
those  who  in  despair  accepted  the  cross  were  spared. 
The  new  council  decreed  that  for  a  period  of  a 
hundred  years  no  Jew  should  be  admitted  into  Stras- 
burg. The  treasures  of  the  Jews  were  divided 
amongst  the  burghers,  some  of  whom  were  loth  to 
defile  themselves  with  the  money,  and,  by  the  ad- 
vice of  their  confessors,  devoted  it  to  the  church. 

Next  came  the  turn  of  Worms,  the  oldest  Jewish 
community  in  Germany.  The  Jews  of  this  town 
had  the  worst  to  fear  from  their  Christian  fellow- 
citizens,  Emperor  Charles  IV  having  given  them 
and  their  possessions  to  the  town  in  return  for  ser- 
vices, so  that  "  the  city  and  the  burghers  of  Worms 
might  do  unto  the  Jews  and  Judaism  as  they  wished, 
might  act  as  with  their  own  property."  When 
the  council  decreed  that  the  Jews  should  be  burnt, 


the  unfortunates  determined  to  anticipate  the  death 
which  awaited  them  from  the  hangman.  Twelve 
Jewish  representatives  are  said  to  have  repaired  to 
the  town  hall  and  begged  for  mercy.  When  this 
was  refused  to  them,  they  are  said  to  have  drawn 
forth  the  weapons  concealed  in  their  clothes,  to  have 
fallen  on  the  councilors,  and  killed  them.  This  story 
is  legendary  ;  but  it  is  a  fact  that  nearly  all  the  Jews 
of  Worms  set  fire  to  their  houses,  and  that  more 
than  400  persons  were  burned  to  death  (loth  Adar 
— I  St  March.  1349).  The  Jews  of  Oppenheim  like- 
wise burnt  themselves  to  death  to  escape  being  tor- 
tured as  poisoners  (end  of  July).  The  community 
of  Frankfort  remained  secure  so  long  as  the  rival 
emperors,  Charles  IV  and  Gunther  of  Schwarzburg, 
were  fighting  in  that  neighborhood ;  the  latter  holding 
his  court  in  Frankfort.  When  he  died,  and  the  con- 
test was  ended,  the  turn  of  the  Jews  of  Frankfort 
came  to  be  killed.  On  being  attacked  they  burned 
themselves  in  their  houses,  causing  a  great  con- 
flagration in  the  city.  In  Mayence,  where  the  Jews 
had  hitherto  been  spared,  a  thief,  during  a  flagellation 
scene,  stole  his  neighbor's  purse.  An  altercation 
arose,  and  the  mob  seized  the  opportunity  to  attack 
the  Jews.  They  had,  no  doubt,  been  prepared,  and 
300  of  them  took  up  arms,  and  killed  200  of  the  mob. 
This  aroused  the  anger  of  the  entire  Christian  com- 
munity, which  likewise  took  to  arms.  The  Jews 
fought  a  considerable  time  ;  at  length,  overpowered 
by  the  enemy,  they  set  fire  to  their  houses  (24th 
August).  Nearly  6,000  Jews  are  said  to  have  per- 
ished in  Mayence.  In  Erfurt,  out  of  a  community  of 
3,000  souls,  not  one  person  survived,  although  the 
council,  after  their  slaughter  in  the  whole  of  Thur- 
ingia,  including  Eisenach  and  Gotha,  had  long  pro- 
tected them.  In  Breslau,  where  a  considerable 
community  dwelt,  the  Jews  were  completely  de- 
stroyed. Emperor  Charles  gave  orders  to  seize  the 
murderers  and  give   them  their  due  punishmenL 


But  he  had  taken  no  steps  to  hinder  the  horrible 
slaughter  enacted  everywhere,  although  informed  of 
the  plots  against  the  Jews.  In  Austria,  also,  the 
outcry  was  made  that  the  Jews  were  poisoners, 
and  terrible  scenes  ensued.  In  Vienna,  on  the 
advice  of  Rabbi  Jonah,  all  the  members  of  the 
congregation  killed  themselves  in  the  synagogue. 
In  Krems,  where  there  was  a  large  congregation, 
the  populace  of  the  town,  assisted  by  that  of  a  neigh- 
boring place  named  Stein  and  the  villages,  attacked 
the  Jews,  who  set  fire  to  their  houses  and  died  (Sep- 
tember, 1349),  only  a  few  being  saved. 

In  Bavaria  and  Suabia,  persecution  was  also  rife, 
and  the  communities  of  Augsburg,  Wiirzburg,  Mun- 
ich, and  many  others  succumbed.  The  Jews  of 
Nuremberg,  through  its  extensive  commerce,  pos- 
sessed great  riches  and  grand  houses,  and  were 
the  especial  objects  of  dislike  to  the  Christians. 
Their  destruction  was  so  imminent  that  Emperor 
Charles  IV  freed  the  council  from  responsibility  if 
they  should  be  injured  against  its  wish. 

At  length  their  fate  was  fulfilled.  On  a  spot 
afterwards  called  Judenbiihl  (Jews'  hill),  the  follow- 
ers of  the  religion  of  love  erected  a  pile,  and  all 
those  who  had  not  emigrated  were  burnt  or  killed. 
The  council  of  Ratisbon  did  its  utmost  to  save  the 
community,  the  oldest  in  the  south  of  Germany. 
For  here  also  the  mob  demanded  the  annihilation  or 
banishment  of  the  Jews.  The  dukes  of  Bavaria,  the 
sons  of  Emperor  Louis,  who  favored  the  persecution 
of  the  Jews,  had  given  the  people  permission  in 
writing  to  "treat the  Jews  as  they  liked,  according 
to  honor  or  necessity,  and  banish  them  with  or  with- 
out justice."  Margrave  Louis  of  Brandenburg,  son 
of  Emperor  Louis,  one  of  the  partisans  of  the  rival 
emperor,  Gunther  of  Schwarzburg,  showed  his 
religious  feeling  by  giving  orders  to  burn  all  the 
Jews  of  Konigsberg  (in  Neumark),  and  to  confis- 
cate their  goods.    So  inhuman  were  people  in  those 

CH.  IV.  THE  JEWS   OF   POLAND.  Ill 

days  that  the  executioner  boasted  of  his  deed,  and 
gave  documentary  evidence  that  Margrave  Louis 
had  commanded  the  Jews  to  be  burnt.  In  North 
Germany  there  Hved  but  few  Jews,  except  in  Magde- 
burg, but  there,  too,  they  were  burnt  or  banished. 
In  Hanover  (in  1 349)  the  flagellants  were  rampant. 
Outside  of  Germany,  amongst  the  nations  still 
uncivilized,  there  were  comparatively  few  persecu- 
tions. Louis,  King  of  Hungary,  an  enthusiast  for 
his  faith,  drove  the  Jews  out  of  his  land,  not  as 
poisoners,  but  as  infidels,  who  opposed  his  scheme 
of  conversion,  although  he  had  given  them  equal 
rights  with  the  Christians  and  privileges  besides. 
The  Hungarian  Jews  who  remained  true  to  their 
faith  emigrated  to  Austria  and  Bohemia.  In  Poland, 
where  the  pestilence  also  raged,  the  Jews  suffered 
but  slight  persecution,  for  they  were  favored  by 
King  Casimir  the  Great.  At  the  request  of  some 
Jews  who  had  rendered  services  to  him,  the  king, 
after  his  ascent  upon  the  throne  (October  9th,  1334) 
confirmed  the  laws  enacted  nearly  a  century  before 
by  Boleslav  Pius,  duke  of  Kalish,  or  rather  by 
Frederick  the  Valiant,  archduke  of  Austria,  and 
accepted  by  the  king  of  Hungary  and  various 
Polish  princes.  Holding  good  only  in  the  dukedom 
of  Kalish  and  Great  Poland,  they  were  extended  by 
Casimir  to  the  whole  of  the  Polish  empire.  Thir- 
teen years  later,  Casimir  altered  the  laws  by  which 
the  Jews  were  permitted  to  lend  money  at  interest, 
but  we  must  not  deduce  that  he  was  inimical  to  the 
Jews,  for  he  expressly  states  that  he  made  this 
limitation  only  at  the  request  of  the  nobility.  In  the 
years  of  the  pestilence,  too,  Casimir  appears  to  have 
protected  the  Jews  against  the  outbreaks  of  the  mis- 
guided multitude,  for  the  accusation  of  the  poison- 
ing of  wells  by  the  Jews  had  traveled  from  Germany 
across  the  Polish  frontier,  and  had  roused  the 
populace  against  them.  Massacres  occurred  in 
Kalish,  Cracow,  Glogau,  and  other  cities,  especially 


on  the  German  frontier.  If  the  number  of  Jews 
stated  to  have  been  killed  in  Poland  (10,000)  be 
correct,  it  bears  no  relation  to  the  enormous  multi- 
tudes who  fell  as  victims  in  Germany.  Later  (1356) 
Casimir  is  said  to  have  taken  a  beautiful  Jewish 
mistress  named  Esther  (Esterka),  who  bore  him  two 
sons  (Niemerz  and  Pelka)  and  two  daughters.  The 
latter  are  said  to  have  remained  Jewesses.  In 
consequence  of  his  love  to  Esther,  the  king  of 
Poland  is  supposed  to  have  bestowed  special  favors 
and  privileges  on  some  Jews,  probably  Esther's 
relations.  But  the  records,  handed  down  by  untrust- 
worthy witnesses,  cannot  be  implicitly  believed. 

At  all  events,  the  Jews  of  Poland  fared  better  than 
those  of  Germany,  seeing  that  they  were  placed  on 
an  equality,  if  not  with  the  Roman  Catholics,  yet 
with  the  Ruthenians,  Saracens,  and  Tartars.  The 
Jews  were  permitted  to  wear  the  national  costume 
and  gold  chains  and  swords,  like  the  knights,  and 
were  eligible  for  military  service. 

As  on  the  eastern  frontier  of  Germany,  the  Jews 
on  the  western  side,  in  Belgium,  were  also  perse- 
cuted at  the  period  of  the  Black  Death.  In  Brussels 
a  wealthy  Jew  stood  in  great  favor  with  the  duke  of 
Brabant,  John  II.  When  the  flagellants  came,  and 
the  death  of  his  co-religionists  was  imminent,  this 
Jew  entreated  his  patron  to  accord  them  his  protec- 
tion, which  John  willingly  promised.  But  the  ene- 
mies of  the  Jews  had  foreseen  this,  and  ensured 
immunity  from  punishment  through  the  duke's  son. 
They  attacked  the  Jews  of  Brussels,  dragged  them 
into  the  streets,  and  killed  all — about  500. 

In  Spain,  the  congregations  of  Catalonia,  which, 
after  those  of  Provence,  supplied  the  first  victims, 
conceived  a  plan  to  prevent  the  outrages  of  fanati- 
cism. They  determined  to  establish  a  common  fund 
in  support  of  their  people  who  should  become  desti- 
tute through  a  mob  or  persecution.  They  were  to 
choose  deputies  to  entreat  the  king  (Don  Pedro  IV) 


to  prevent  the  recurrence  of  such  scenes  of  horror. 
Other  concessions  were  to  be  sought,  but  the  plan 
was  never  carried  into  effect,  owing  to  delay  on  the 
part  of  the  Jews  of  Aragon,  and  also  probably 
because  too  much  was  expected  of  the  king.  The 
Jews  under  Aragonian  rule  were  still  behind  those 
in  the  kingdom  of  Castile. 

In  Castile  also  the  Black  Death  had  held  its  grue- 
some revelries  ;  but  here  the  population,  more  intel- 
ligent than  elsewhere,  did  not  dream  of  holding  the 
Jews  responsible  for  its  ravages.  In  Toledo  and 
Seville  the  plague  snatched  away  many  respected 
members  of  the  community,  particularly  from  the 
families  of  Abulafia,  Asheri,  and  Ibn-Shoshan.  The 
grief  of  the  survivors  is  vividly  depicted  in  such  of 
the  tombstone  inscriptions  of  the  Toledo  Jewish 
cemetery  as  have  come  down  to  us.  King  Alfonso 
XI  was  amongst  the  victims  of  the  insidious  plague, 
but  not  even  a  whisper  charged  the  Jews  with 
responsibility  for  his  death.  During  the  reign  of 
Don  Pedro  (1350 — 1369),  Alfonso's  son  and  suc- 
cessor, the  influence  of  the  Castilian  Jews  reached  a 
height  never  before  attained.  It  was  the  last  luster 
of  their  splendid  career  in  Spain,  soon  to  be  shrouded 
in  dark  eventide  shadows.  The  young  king,  only 
fifteen  years  of  age  when  called  to  the  throne,  was 
early  branded  by  his  numerous  enemies  with  the 
name  of  "Pedro  the  Cruel."  His  favors  to  the 
Jews  had  a  share  In  procuring  him  this  nickname, 
although  he  was  not  more  cruel  than  many  of  his 
predecessors  and  successors.  Don  Pedro  was  a 
child  of  nature  with  all  the  good  and  the  bad  quali- 
ties implied ;  he  would  not  submit  to  the  restrictions 
of  court  etiquette,  nor  allow  himself  to  be  controlled 
by  political  considerations.  Through  the  duplicity 
and  faithlessness  of  his  bastard  brothers,  sons  of 
Alfonso's  mistress,  Leonora  de  Guzman — the  same 
who  had  unconsciously  saved  the  Jews  from  Immi- 
nent destruction — the  king  was  provoked  to  san- 


guinary  retaliation.  The  instinct  of  self-preservation, 
the  maintenance  of  his  royal  dignity,  filial  affection, 
and  attachment  to  an  early  love,  had  more  to  do 
with  his  reckless,  bloody  deeds  than  inherent  cruelty 
and  vengeance.  The  young  king,  destined  to  come 
to  so  sad  an  end,  involving  the  Castilian  Jews  in  his 
fall,  was  from  the  beginning  of  his  reign  surrounded 
by  tragic  circumstances.  His  mother,  the  Portu- 
guese Infanta  Donna  Maria,  had  been  humiliated 
and  deeply  mortified  by  her  husband  at  the  mstiga- 
tion  of  his  mistress,  Leonora  de  Guzman.  Don 
Pedro  himself  had  been  neglected  for  his  bastard 
brothers,  and  particularly  for  his  elder  half-brother, 
Henry  de  Trastamara.  The  first  important  duty  of 
his  reign,  then,  was  to  obtain  justice  for  his  humil- 
iated mother,  and  degrade  the  rival  who  had  caused 
her  so  much  misery.  That  he  tolerated  his  bastard 
brothers  is  a  proof  that  he  was  not  of  a  cruel  dispo- 
sition. His  severity  was  felt  more  by  the  grandees 
and  hidalgos,  who  trampled  on  justice  and  humanity, 
and  ill-treated  the  people  with  cavalier  arrogance. 
Only  in  these  circles  Don  Pedro  had  bitter  enemies, 
not  amongst  the  lower  orders,  which,  when  not  mis- 
led, remained  faithful  to  him  to  death.  The  Jews  also 
were  attached  to  him.  They  risked  property  and 
life  for  their  patriotism,  because  he  protected  them 
against  injustice  and  oppression,  and  did  not  treat 
them  as  outcasts.  The  Jews  certainly  suffered  much 
through  him,  not  in  the  character  of  patient  victims, 
as  in  Germany  and  France,  but  as  zealous  partisans 
and  fellow  combatants,  who  shared  the  overthrow 
of  their  leader  with  his  Christian  followers. 

Shortly  after  Don  Pedro  had  ascended  the  throne, 
when  the  grief  caused  by  the  death  of  King  Alfonso 
XI  was  still  fresh,  a  venerable  Jewish  poet  ventured 
to  address  to  the  new  monarch  words  of  advice  in 
well-balanced  Spanish  verses.  This  poet,  Santob 
(Shem  Tob)  de  Carrion,  from  the  northern  Spanish 
town  of  that  name  (about  1300 — 1350),  a  member 


of  a  large  community,  has  been  entirely  neglected 
in  Jewish  literature.  Christian  writers  have  pre- 
served his  memory  and  his  verses.  Santob's  (or  as 
abbreviated,  Santo's)  poetical  legacy  deserves  to  be 
treasured.  His  verses  flow  soft  and  clear  as  the 
ripples  of  an  unsullied  spring,  dancing  with  silvery 
brightness  out  of  its  rocky  hollow.  He  had  not 
only  thoroughly  mastered  the  sonorous  periods  of 
the  Spanish  language,  at  that  time  in  a  transition 
state  between  tenderness  and  vigor,  but  had  en- 
riched it.  Santob  embodied  the  practical  wisdom  of 
his  time  in  beautiful  strophes.  His  *'  Counsels  and 
Lessons,"  addressed  to  Don  Pedro,  have  the  char- 
acter of  proverbs  and  apothegms.  He  drew  upon 
the  unfailing  wealth  of  maxims  of  the  Talmud  and 
later  Hebrew  poets  for  his  verse,  and  the  sweetness 
of  his  poetry  was  derived  from  various  sources. 

Santob's  verses  are  not  always  of  this  gentle, 
uncontroversial  character.  He  did  not  hesitate  to 
speak  sternly  to  those  of  his  co-religionists  who 
had  become  wealthy  by  the  king's  bounty,  and 
he  denounced  the  prejudice  with  which  Spanish 
Christians  regarded  whatever  was  of  Jewish  origin. 
Even  to  the  young  king  he  was  in  the  habit  of  in- 
dulging in  a  certain  amount  of  plain  speaking  ;  and 
in  his  stanzas,  more  than  600  In  number,  he  often 
drew  for  his  majesty's  benefit  suggestive  pictures  of 
virtue  and  vice.  He  reminded  the  king,  too,  of 
promises  made  to  Santob  by  his  father,  and  bade 
him  fulfill  them.  From  this  it  would  appear  that  our 
Jewish  troubadour,  who  wooed  the  muse  so  success- 
fully, was  not  a  favorite  of  fortune.  Little,  how- 
ever, is  known  of  him  beyond  his  verses,  and  we 
have  no  knowledge  of  the  reception  which  his  rep- 
resentations met  at  the  hands  of  Don  Pedro. 

To  other  prominent  Jews  the  king's  favor  was 
unbounded.  Don  Juan  Alfonso  de  Albuquerque, 
his  tutor  and  all-powerful  minister,  recommended 
for  the  post  of  minister  of  finance  a  Jew  who  had 



rendered  him  great  services,  and  the  king  appointed 
Don  Samuel  ben  Meir  AUavi,  a  member  of  the  lead- 
ing family  of  Toledo,  the  Abulafia-Halevis,  to  a 
state  situation  of  trust,  in  defiance  of  the  decision 
of  the  cortes  that  Jews  should  no  longer  be  eligible. 
Samuel  Abulafia  not  only  became  treasurer-in-chief 
(Tesoreo  mayor),  but  also  the  king's  confidential 
adviser  (privado),  who  had  a  voice  in  all  important 
consultations  and  decisions.  Two  inscriptions 
referring  to  Don  Samuel,  one  written  during  his 
lifetime,  the  other  after  his  death,  describe  him  as 
noble  and  handsome,  instinct  with  religious  feel- 
ing, a  benevolent  man,  "  who  never  swerved  from 
the  path  of  God,  nor  could  he  be  reproached  with 
a  fault." 

Another  Jew  who  figured  at  Don  Pedro's  court 
was  Abraham  Ibn-Zarzal,  the  king's  physician  and 
astrologer.  Don  Pedro  was,  indeed,  so  surrounded 
by  Jews,  that  his  enemies  reproached  his  court  for 
its  Jewish  character.  Whether  the  protection  he  ex- 
tended to  his  Jewish  subjects  was  due  to  the  influ- 
ence of  these  Jewish  favorites  or  to  his  own  im- 
pulses is  unknown.  On  opening  for  the  first  time 
the  cortes  of  Valladolid  (May,  1351),  he  was  pre- 
sented with  a  petition,  praying  him  to  abolish  the 
judicial  autonomy  enjoyed  by  the  Jewish  communi- 
ties and  their  right  to  appoint  their  own  Alcaldes  ;  he 
replied  that  the  Jews,  being  numerically  a  feeble 
people,  required  special  protection.  From  Christian 
judges  they  would  not  obtain  justice,  or  their  cases 
would  be  delayed. 

Whilst  the  relatives  of  the  young  king  were  in- 
triguing to  arrange  a  marriage  between  him  and 
Blanche,  daughter  of  the  French  Due  de  Bourbon, 
he  fell  in  love  with  Maria  de  Padilla,  a  clever,  beau- 
tiful lady  of  a  noble  Spanish  family.  It  is  said  that 
he  was  formally  married  to  her  in  the  presence  of 
witnesses.  At  any  rate,  he  caused  the  marriage 
proposals   to  Blanche  to  be  withdrawn ;    but  the 

CH.  TV.  FACTIONS   AT   COURT.  11/ 

Bourbon  princess,  either  of  her  own  accord,  or  at 
the  instance  of  her  ambitious  relatives,  insisted  on 
coming  to  Spain  to  assume  the  diadem.  Her  re- 
solve brought  only  sorrow  to  herself  and  misfortune 
to  the  country.  The  nearest  relatives  of  the  king 
strained  every  nen/e  to  procure  the  celebration  of 
the  marriage,  and  in  this  they  succeeded  ;  but  Don 
Pedro  remained  with  his  bride  only  two  days.  The 
result  of  this  state  of  things  was  that  to  the  old 
parties  in  the  state  another  was  added,  some 
grandees  taking  part  with  the  deserted  queen, 
others  with  Maria  de  Padilla.  To  the  latter  belono-ed 
Samuel  Abulafia  and  the  Jews  of  Spain.  The 
reason  assigned  was  that  Blanche,  having  observed 
with  displeasure  the  influence  possessed  by  Samuel 
and  other  Jews  at  her  husband's  court,  and  the 
honors  and  distinctions  enjoyed  by  them,  had  made 
the  firm  resolve,  which  she  even  commenced  to  put 
into  execution,  to  compass  the  fall  of  the  more 
prominent  Jews,  and  obtain  the  banishment  of  the 
whole  of  the  Jewish  population  from  Spain.  She 
made  no  secret  of  her  aversion  to  the  Jews,  but,  on 
the  contrary,  expressed  it  openly.  For  this  reason, 
it  is  stated,  the  Jewish  courtiers  took  up  a  position 
of  antagonism  to  the  queen,  and,  on  their  part,  lost 
no  opportunity  of  increasing  Don  Pedro's  dislike 
for  her.  If  Blanche  de  Bourbon  really  fostered  such 
anti-Jewish  feelings,  and  circumstances  certainly 
seem  to  bear  out  this  view,  then  the  Jews  were  com- 
pelled in  self-defense  to  prevent  the  queen  from 
acquiring  any  ascendency,  declare  themselves  for 
the  Padilla  party,  and  support  it  with  all  the  means 
in  their  power.  Dissension  and  civil  war  grew  out 
of  this  unhappy  relation  of  the  king  to  his  scarcely 
recognized  consort.  Albuquerque,  who  was  first 
opposed  to  the  queen,  and  then  permitted  himself  to 
be  won  over  to  her  side,  fell  into  disgrace,  and 
Samuel  Abulafia  succeeded  him  as  the  most  trusted 
of  the  king's  counselors.       Whenever    the    court 

Il8  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

moved,  Samuel,  with  other  eminent  grandees,  was 
in  attendance  on  the  king. 

One  day  Don  Pedro's  enemies,  at  their  head  his 
bastard  brothers,  succeeded  in  decoying  him,  with  a 
few  of  his  followers,  into  the  fortress  of  Toro.  His 
companions,  among  whom  was  Samuel  Abulafia, 
were  thrown  into  prison,  and  the  king  himself  was 
placed  under  restraint  (1354).  Whilst  a  few  of 
the  loyal  grandees  and  even  the  Grand  Master  of 
Calatrava  were  executed  by  the  conspirators,  the 
favorite  Samuel  was,  strange  to  say,  spared.  Later 
on  he  succeeded  in  escaping  with  the  king.  Having 
shared  his  royal  master's  misfortune,  he  rose  still 
higher  in  his  favor,  and  the  esteem  in  which  he  was 
held  by  the  king  was  largely  increased  by  his  suc- 
cessful administration  of  the  finances,  which  he  had 
managed  so  as  to  accumulate  a  large  reserve,  of 
which  few  of  Don  Pedro's  predecessors  had  been 
able  to  boast.  The  treacherous  seizure  of  the  king 
at  Toro  formed  a  turning  point  in  his  reign.  Out 
of  it  grew  a  fierce  civil  war  in  Castile,  which  Don 
Pedro  carried  on  with  great  cruelty.  In  this,  how- 
ever, the  Jewish  courtiers  had  no  hand  ;  even  the 
enemies  of  the  Jews  do  not  charge  the  Jewish  min- 
ister with  any  responsibility  for  Don  Pedro's  exces- 
ses. The  bastard  brothers  and  their  adherents 
endeavored  to  seize  the  chief  town,  Toledo.  Here 
Don  Pedro  had  numerous  partisans,  amongst  them 
the  whole  of  the  Jewish  community,  and  they  con- 
tested the  entrance  of  the  brothers.  One  of  the 
gates  was,  however,  secretly  opened  to  them  by 
their  friends,  and  they  immediately  attacked  the 
quarters  in  which  the  Jews  lived  in  large  numbers. 
In  Alcana  street  they  put  to  the  sword  nearly 
12,000  people,  men  and  women,  old  and  young. 
But  in  the  inner  town  they  failed  to  make  any 
impression,  the  Jews  having  barricaded  the  gates  and 
manned  the  walls,  together  with  several  noblemen 
belonging  to  the  king's  party  (May,  1355).     A  few 


days  later  Don  Pedro  entered  Toledo.  By  his 
adherents  in  the  city  he  was  received  with  enthusi- 
asm, but  he  dealt  out  severe  retribution  to  all  who 
had  assisted  his  brothers. 

Samuel  Abulafia,  by  the  wisdom  of  his  counsels, 
his  able  financial  administration,  and  his  zeal  for  the 
cause  of  Maria  de  Padilla,  continued  to  rise  in  the 
favor  of  the  king.  His  power  was  greater  than  that 
of  the  grandees  of  the  realm.  His  wealth  was 
princely,  and  eighty  black  slaves  ser\'ed  in  his  palace. 
He  seems  to  have  lacked  the  generosity  which  would 
have  suggested  employing  some  portion  of  his 
power  and  prosperity  for  the  permanent  benefit  of 
his  race  and  religion.  He  certainly  "sought  to  pro- 
mote the  welfare  of  his  people,"  as  an  inscription 
tells  us  ;  but  he  failed  to  understand  in  what  this 
welfare  consisted.  Against  injustice  and  animosity 
he  protected  his  brethren,  promoted  a  few  to  state 
employment,  and  gave  them  opportunities  for  enrich- 
ing themselves,  but  he  was  far  from  being  what 
Chasdai  Ibn-Shaprut  and  Samuel  Ibn-Nagrela  had 
been  to  their  co-religionists.  Samuel  Abulafia 
appears  to  have  had  little  sympathy  with  intellectual 
aspirations,  or  with  the  promotion  of  Jewish  science 
and  poetic  literature.  He  built  synagogues  for 
several  of  the  Castilian  communities,  and  one  of 
especial  magnificence  at  Toledo,  but  not  a  single 
establishment  for  the  promotion  of  Talmudic  study. 

The  Abulafia  synagogue  at  Toledo  which,  trans- 
formed into  a  church,  is  still  one  of  the  ornaments 
of  the  town,  was,  like  most  of  the  Spanish  churches 
of  that  period,  built  partly  in  the  Gothic,  partly  in 
the  Moorish  style.  It  consisted  of  several  naves 
separated  from  each  other  by  columns  and  arches. 
The  upper  part  of  the  walls  is  decorated  with  deli- 
cately cut  arabesques,  within  which,  in  white  char- 
acters on  a  green  ground,  the  eightieth  Psalm  may 
be  read  in  Hebrew.  On  the  north  and  south  sides 
are  inscriptions  in  bas-relief,  reciting  the  merits  of 

I20  HISTORY   OF    THE   JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

Prince  Samuel  Levi  ben  Meir.  The  community 
offers  up  its  thanks  to  God,  "  who  has  not  withdrawn 
His  favor  from  His  people,  and  raised  up  men  to 
rescue  them  from  the  hands  of  their  enemies.  Even 
though  there  be  no  longer  a  king  in  Israel,  God  has 
permitted  one  of  His  people  to  find  favor  in  the  eyes 
of  the  king,  Don  Pedro,  who  has  raised  him  above 
the  mighty,  appointed  him  a  councilor  of  his  realm, 
and  invested  him  with  almost  royal  dignities."  The 
name  of  Don  Pedro  appears  in  large  and  prominent 
letters,  suggesting  that  this  prince,  in  intimate  rela- 
tions with  the  Jews,  belonged,  one  may  say,  to  the 
synagogue.  In  conclusion,  the  wish  is  expressed 
that  Samuel  may  survive  the  rebuilding  of  the 
Temple,  and  officiate  there  with  his  sons  as  chiefs  of 
the  people. 

This  large  and  splendid  synagogue  was  completed 
in  the  year  1357.  For  the  following  year  the  be- 
ginning of  the  Messianic  period  had  been  predicted, 
a  century  before,  by  the  astronomer  Abraham  ben 
Chiya  and  the  rabbi  and  Kabbalist  Nachmani,  and, 
a  few  decades  before,  by  the  philosopher  Leon  de 
Bagnols.  As  this  prophecy  was  not  literally  fulfilled, 
many  Jews  began  to  regard  the  eminence  attained 
by  Samuel  and  other  leading  Jews  as  a  suggestion  of 
the  scepter  of  Judah.  It  was- a  dangerous  aberration, 
whose  pitfalls  were  fully  appreciated  by  Nissim 
Gerundi  ben  Reuben  (about  1340 — 1380),  rabbi  of 
Barcelona,  the  most  important  rabbinical  authority 
of  his  day.  Justly  fearing  that  the  belief  in  the 
coming  of  a  Messiah  would  suffer  discredit  by  the 
non-fulfillment  of  such  prophecies,  he  preached 
against  the  calculation  of  the  end  of  the  world  from 
expressions  in  the  book  of  Daniel. 

Don  Samuel  exercised  too  decided  an  influence 
over  the  king  to  avoid  making  enemies.  Even  had 
he  been  a  Christian,  the  court  party  would  have  de- 
vised schemes  to  bring  about  his  fall.  Attempts  were 
made  to  stir  up  the  Castilian  population  against  the 


Jews,  particularly  against  the  Jewish  minister,  not 
only  by  Don  Pedro's  bastard  brother,  Don  Henry, 
and  Queen  Blanche,  but  by  all  formerly  in  the  king's 
service.  Don  Pedro  Lopez  de  Ayala,  poet,  chron- 
icler, and  the  king's  standard-bearer,  has  given  us, 
in  one  of  his  poems,  a  picture  of  the  feelings  of  the 
courtiers  for  favored  Jews:  "They  suck  the  blood 
of  the  afflicted  people  ;  they  lap  up  their  possessions 
with  their  tax-farming.  Don  Abraham  and  Don 
Samuel,  with  lips  as  sweet  as  honey,  obtain  from  the 
king  whatever  they  ask."  Samuel's  fall  was  de- 
sired by  many.  It  is  even  said  that  some  Toledo 
Jews,  envious  of  his  good  fortune,  charged  him  with 
having  accumulated  his  enormous  wealth  at  his 
royal  master's  expense.  Don  Pedro  confiscated 
Samuel's  entire  fortune  and  that  of  his  relatives, 
170,900  doubloons,  4,000  silver  marks,  125  chests 
of  cloth  of  gold  and  silver  and  80  slaves  from  the 
minister,  and  60,000  doubloons  from  his  relatives. 
According  to  some  writers,  an  extraordinary  quan- 
tity of  gold  and  silver  was  found  buried  under  Sam- 
uel's house.  Don  Pedro  ordered  his  former  favorite 
to  be  imprisoned  at  Toledo  and  placed  upon  the 
rack  at  Seville,  in  order  to  force  him  to  disclose 
further  treasures.  He,  however,  remained  firm,  re- 
vealed nothing,  and  succumbed  under  the  torture 
(October  or  November,  1360).  His  gravestone  re- 
cites in  simple  phrase  how  high  his  position  had 
been,  and  how  his  soul,  purified  by  torture,  had 
risen  to  God.  Concerning  Don  Pedro,  the  inscrip- 
tion has  not  a  single  condemnatory  expression. 

Samuel  Abulafia's  death  did  not  change  the 
friendly  relations  between  the  king  and  the  Jews. 
They  remained  faithful  to  him,  and  he  continued  to 
confer  important  distinctions  on  members  of  their 
body.  They  consequently  came  in  for  a  share  of 
the  hatred  with  which  the  enemies  of  the  king  re- 
garded him.  The  king  resolved  to  put  to  death  his 
detested  consort  (1361).     Whatever  the  character 


of  the  queen,  whether  she  was  a  saint  or  the  re- 
verse, whether  or  not  she  had  deserved  her  fate, 
the  method  of  her  death  must  ever  remain  a  stain 
on  Don  Pedro's  memory.  In  spite  of  the  animosity 
with  which  De  Ayala  regarded  the  Jews,  there  is  no 
intimation  in  his  chronicle  that  any  of  Don  Pedro's 
Jewish  favorites  were  concerned  in  this  crime.  It 
was  reserved  for  a  later  period  to  invent  fables 
identifying  them  with  the  king's  guilt.  A  story  was 
forged  to  the  effect  that  a  Jew  had  administered 
poison  to  the  queen  on  the  king's  order,  because 
she  had  insisted  on  the  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from 
Spain.  A  French  romance,  in  which  an  endeavor  is 
made  to  varnish  the  deeds  and  misdeeds  of  the 
French  adventurers  who  fought  against  Don  Pedro 
and  the  Jews,  attributes  the  queen's  death  to  a 
Jewish  hand. 

Don  Pedro  announced  publicly,  before  the  assem- 
bled cortes  at  Seville,  that  his  marriage  with  Blanche 
of  Bourbon  had  been  illegal,  inasmuch  as  he  had 
been  previously  married  to  Maria  de  Padilla.  He 
called  witnesses,  among  them  a  few  of  the  clergy, 
and  these  confirmed  his  statement  on  oath.  Through 
the  murder  of  Blanche,  and  its  consequences,  an 
opportuntity  offered  itself  to  Don  Henry  de  Trasta- 
mara  to  obtain  allies  for  the  dethronement  of  the 
king,  and  of  this  he  was  not  slow  to  avail  him- 
self. The  Bourbons  in  France  and  the  king  prom- 
ised him  aid,  and  allowed  him  to  enlist  the  wild 
lances  of  the  so-called  great  or  white  company, 
who,  at  the  conclusion  of  the  war  with  England, 
were  rendering  France  insecure.  The  pope,  dis- 
pleased at  the  favors  shown  by  Don  Pedro  to  the 
Jews,  also  supported  Don  Henry,  and  placed  the 
king  of  Spain  under  the  ban. 

To  invest  his  rebellion  with  a  tinge  of  legality 
and  win  the  feelings  of  the  people,  Don  Henry 
blackened  his  brother's  character,  picturing  him  as 
an  outcast  who  had  forfeited  the  crown  because  he 


had  allowed  his  states  to  be  governed  by  Jews,  and 
had  himself  become  attached  to  them  and  their  re- 
ligion. Don  Henry  carried  his  calumnies  so  far  as 
to  state  that  not  only  his  mistress,  Maria  de  Padilla, 
was  a  Jewess,  but  that  Don  Pedro  himself  was  of 
Jewish  extraction. 

With  the  mercenaries  of  the  "white  company," 
graceless  banditti,  Henry  crossed  the  Pyrenees  to 
make  war  on  and,  if  possible,  depose  his  brother. 
At  the  head  of  these  French  and  English  outlaws 
stood  the  foremost  warrior  of  his  time,  the  hero  and 
knight-errant,  Bertrand  du  Guesclin  (Claquin),  cele- 
brated for  his  deeds  of  daring,  his  ughness,  and  his 
eccentricity,  who,  like  the  Cid,  has  been  glorified  by 
legend.  The  Jews  consistently  cast  in  their  fortunes 
with  those  of  the  Don  Pedro  party,  and  supported 
it  with  their  money  and  their  blood.  They  flocked 
to  its  standard  in  the  field,  and  garrisoned  the 
towns  against  the  onslaughts  of  Don  Henry  and  Du 
Guesclin.  The  wild  mercenaries  to  whom  they  were 
opposed  avenged  themselves  not  only  on  the  Jew- 
ish soldiers,  but  also  on  those  who  had  not  borne 

The  approach  of  the  enemy  compelled  Don  Pedro 
to  abandon  Burgos,  the  capital  of  Old  Castile,  and 
at  an  assembly  of  the  inhabitants  it  was  prudently 
resolved  not  to  contest  Don  Henry's  entrance.  On 
taking  possession  of  the  town,  where  he  was  first 
proclaimed  king  (March,  1360),  Henry  levied  a  fine 
of  50,000  doubloons  on  the  Jewish  community,  and 
canceled  all  outstanding  debts  due  from  Christians 
to  Jews.  The  Jews  of  Burgos,  unable  to  pay  this 
large  contribution,  were  compelled  to  sell  their 
goods  and  chattels,  even  the  ornaments  on  the 
scrolls  of  the  Law.  Those  who  could  not  make  up 
their  share  of  the  contribution  were  sold  into  slavery. 
The  whole  of  Spain  fell  to  the  conqueror  in  conse- 
quence of  Don  Pedro's  neglect  to  concentrate  round 
himself  that  portion  of  the  population  on  which  he 

124  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

could  rely,  or  to  buy  over  the  free  lances  of  the 
"white  company,"  as  he  had  been  advised.  The 
gates  of  Toledo,  the  capital,  were  opened  to  the 
victor,  although  Don  Pedro's  party,  to  which  the 
Jews  belonged,  strongly  counseled  defense.  Upon 
the  Toledo  community  Don  Henry  also  levied  a 
heavy  fine  for  its  fidelity  to  the  legitimate  king. 
Don  Pedro's  last  refuge  was  Seville,  which  he  also 

Once  again  fortune  smiled  on  Don  Pedro,  after 
he  was  compelled  to  cross  the  Pyrenees  as  a  fugi- 
tive, and  leave  the  whole  of  his  country  in  the  hands 
of  the  enemy.  The  heroic  Prince  of  Wales,  called 
the  Black  Prince  from  the  color  of  his  armor,  being 
in  the  south  of  France,  undertook  to  come  to  the  aid 
of  the  deposed  monarch  both  for  the  sake  of  a  legiti- 
mate cause,  and  in  expectation  of  rich  rewards  in 
money  and  land.  Henry  de  Trastamara  was  com- 
pelled to  leave  Spain  (1367).  The  whole  of  the 
peninsula  hailed  the  victor  Don  Pedro  and  his  ally, 
the  Black  Prince,  with  enthusiasm,  as  it  had  pre- 
viously rejoiced  at  the  triumph  of  his  brother  and 
the  wild  Constable  of  France,  Bertrand  du  Gues- 
clin.  Soon,  however,  the  scene  changed.  The 
Black  Prince  left  Don  Pedro,  and  Don  Henry 
returned  with  new  levies  from  France.  The  north- 
ern towns  of  Spain  again  fell  before  his  arms.  The 
citizens  of  Burgos  opened  their  gates  to  the  con- 
queror, but  the  Jews  remained  true  to  the  unfor- 
tunate Don  Pedro.  Assisted  by  a  few  loyal  noble- 
men, they  bravely  defended  the  Jewry  of  Burgos, 
and  were  subdued  only  by  the  superior  strength  of 
the  enemy.  They  obtained  a  favorable  capitulation, 
providing  for  their  undisputed  continuance  in  the 
town,  but  they  were  forced  to  pay  a  war  indemnity 
of  one  million  maravedis. 

This  time  the  Christian  population  was  desirous 
of  profiting  by  the  revolt  against  Don  Pedro.  The 
cortes  of  Burgos  represented  to  Henry   that  the 


Jews,  having  been  favorites  and  officials  under  the 
former  king,  were  largely  responsible  for  the  civil 
war,  and  that  he  should  sanction  a  law  to  exclude 
them  in  future  from  all  state  employment,  including 
the  post  of  physician  to  the  king  or  queen,  and  also 
from  the  right  of  farming  taxes.  To  this  Don 
Henry  replied  that  such  a  practice  had  not  been 
countenanced  by  any  former  king  of  Castile.  He 
would,  however,  not  consult  with  the  Jews  at  his 
court,  nor  permit  them  the  exercise  of  functions 
which  might  prove  detrimental  to  the  country. 
From  this  it  is  evident  that  Henry  had  no  particular 
aversion  to  the  Jews.  Possibly,  he  feared  that  by 
oppressing  them  he  might  drive  them  to  acts  of 

Don  Pedro  still  counted  many  adherents  in  the 
country.  Most  of  the  Jewish  communities  remained 
true  to  him,  and  Jews  served  in  his  army,  and  fought 
against  the  usurper  for  the  king,  who  to  the  last 
treated  them  with  special  favor.  Even  when  in 
despair  he  was  obliged  to  call  to  his  assistance  the 
Mahometan  king  of  Granada,  he  impressed  upon 
that  monarch  the  duty  of  protecting  the  Jews.  Not- 
withstanding this,  the  Jews  endured  indescribable 
sufferings  at  the  hands  of  both  friend  and  foe.  Don 
Pedro  being  entirely  dependent  on  the  auxiliaries 
of  the  Black  Prince  and  on  those  of  the  Mahometan 
king,  his  wishes  with  respect  to  the  Jews  were  not 
regarded.  The  community  of  Villadiego,  celebrated 
for  its  benevolence  and  the  promotion  of  learning, 
was  utterly  destroyed  by  the  English.  The  same 
evil  fortune  befell  Aguilar  and  other  communities. 
The  inhabitants  of  Valladolid,  who  paid  allegiance 
to  Don  Henry,  plundered  the  Jews,  demolished 
their  eight  synagogues,  despoiled  them  of  their 
treasures,  and  tore  up  the  sacred  writings.  A  period 
of  shocking  degeneracy  followed.  Wherever  Don 
Henry  came,  he  laid  the  Jews  under  heavy  contri- 
butions, precipitating  them  into  poverty,  and  leaving 

126  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS,  CH.  IV. 

them  nothing  but  their  lives.  The  Mahometan  king, 
Don  Pedro's  ally,  carried  three  hundred  Jewish 
families  as  prisoners  from  Jaen  to  Granada.  Still 
worse  was  the  treatment  of  the  violent  Du  Guesclin. 
A  prey  to  French  Jew-hatred,  he  could  not  look 
upon  Jews  as  his  equals  in  party  strife  and  war, 
but  only  as  slaves  who  had  dared  draw  the  sword 
against  their  masters.  The  misery  was  so  great 
at  this  time  that  many  Jews  became  converts  to 

The  community  of  Toledo  suffered  most  severely. 
In  emulation  of  Don  Pedro's  Christian  adherents, 
they  made  the  greatest  sacrifices  for  the  defense  of 
the  town,  and  endured  a  long  and  frightful  siege. 
The  famine  during  the  investment  was  so  great  that 
the  unfortunates  consumed,  not  only  the  parchment 
of  the  La^\,  but  even  the  flesh  of  their  own  chil- 
dren. Through  hunger  and  war  the  greater  portion 
of  the  Toledo  community  perished — according  to 
some  8,000  persons,  according  to  others  more  than 
10,000.  At  last,  at  Montiel,  Don  Henry  defeated 
his  brother,  who  had  been  abandoned  by  all  his 
partisans  (14th  March,  1369).  Don  Pedro's  end  was 
tragic.  When  the  brothers  met,  Henry  is  said  to 
have  hurled  these  insulting  words  in  his  face : 
"  Where  is  the  Jew,  the  son  of  a  harlot,  who  calls 
himself  king  of  Castile?"  They  then  closed  in  a 
struggle.  Don  Pedro  was  overcome,  and  beheaded 
by  his  brother's  general,  Du  Guesclin.  Pope  Urban 
V  could  not  contain  his  delight  on  hearing  the  news 
of  Don  Pedro's  death.  "  The  church  must  rejoice," 
he  wrote,  "at  the  death  of  such  a  tyrant,  a  rebel 
against  the  church,  and  a  favorer  of  the  Jews  and 
Saracens.  The  righteous  exult  in  retribution."  The 
humiliation  and  abasement  of  the  Spanish  Jews, 
which  the  papacy  had  so  long  failed  to  accomplish, 
was  obtained  unexpectedly  by  the  civil  war  in  Castile. 
At  Montiel  they  suffered  a  defeat  pregnant  with 
consequences  fatal  to  their  future. 

en.  IV.         DISTRESS   OF  THE  JEWISH   COMMUNITIES.  12/ 

Had  a  traveler,  like  Benjamin  of  Tudela,  journeyed 
through  Europe  in  the  latter  half  of  the  fourteenth 
century,  with  the  object  of  visiting,  enumerating, 
and  describing  the  various  Jewish  communities,  he 
would  have  had  a  dismal  picture  to  give  us.  From 
the  Pillars  of  Hercules  and  the  Atlantic  Ocean  to 
the  banks  of  the  Oder  or  the  Vistula,  he  would  have 
found  in  many  districts  no  Jews  at  all,  and  elsewhere 
only  very  small,  poverty-stricken,  wretched  com- 
munities, still  bleeding  from  the  wounds  inflicted 
by  the  plague-maddened  populace.  According  to 
human  calculation,  the  destruction  of  the  Jews  in 
western  and  central  Europe  was  imminent.  Those 
who  had  survived  the  pitiless  massacre,  or  been 
spared  a  desperate  suicide,  had  lost  courage.  Com- 
munal ties  were  for  the  most  part  rent  asunder.  The 
recollection  of  the  scenes  of  horror  through  which 
they  had  passed  long  agitated  the  small  number 
of  surviving  Jews,  and  left  them  no  hope  of  better 
times.     Lord  Byron's  elegiac  lines — 

"  The  wild  dove  hath  her  nest,  the  fox  his  cave. 
Mankind  their  country — Israel  but  the  g^ave," 

are  applicable  to  the  whole  of  the  mediaeval  history 
of  the  Jews,  but  to  no  period  more  than  to  this. 
Western  and  central  Europe  had  become  for  the 
descendants  of  the  patriarchs  and  the  prophets  one 
vast  grave,  which  insatiably  demanded  new  victims. 
It  is  remarkable  that  the  Jews  had  become  indis- 
pensable to  the  Christian  population,  in  spite  of  the 
venomous  hatred  with  which  the  latter  regarded 
them.  Not  only  princes,  but  cities,  and  even  the 
clergy,  had  a  mania  for  "possessing  Jews."  A  few 
years  after  the  terrible  frenzy  which  followed  the 
Black  Death,  German  citizens  and  their  magistrates 
hastened  to  re-admit  the  Jews  ;  they  soon  forgot 
their  vow,  that  for  a  hundred  or  two  hundred  years 
no  Jew  should  dwell  within  their  walls.  The  bishop 
of  Augsburg  applied  to  Emperor  Charles  IV  for  the 


privilege  "  to  receive  and  harbor  Jews."  The  elec- 
tors, ecclesiastical  as  well  as  secular,  were  bent  upon 
curtailing  the  exclusive  right  of  the  German  em- 
peror to  possess  serfs  of  the  chamber  (servi  camerae), 
and  upon  acquiring  the  same  right  for  themselves. 
Gerlach,  archbishop  of  Mayence,  especially  exerted 
himself  to  wrest  this  privilege  from  Emperor  Charles 
IV,  his  success  being  to  no  small  extent  due  to 
the  desire  of  the  emperor  to  retain  his  popularity 
amongst  the  electors.  At  an  imperial  Diet  held  at 
Nuremberg  in  November,  1355,  where  a  kind  of 
German  constitution,  known  as  the  "Golden  Bull," 
was  promulgated,  the  emperor  conferred  on  the 
electors,  in  addition  to  the  right  of  discovery  of 
metal  and  salt  mines,  the  privilege  to  hold  Jews ; 
that  is  to  say,  he  yielded  to  them  this  source  of  rev- 
enue in  addition  to  such  sources  as  deposits  of  metal 
and  salt.  But  it  was  only  to  the  electors  that  the 
emperor  conceded  this  right ;  he  retained  his  rights 
over  the  "servi  camerae"  living  under  the  rule  of 
the  minor  princes  and  in  cities.  The  archiepiscopal 
elector  of  Mayence  lost  no  time  in  utilizing  the  new 
privilege,  and  immediately  employed  a  Jew  to  obtain 
others  for  him.  Thus  the  Jews  were  at  once  repelled 
and  attracted,  shunned  and  courted,  outlawed  and 
flattered.  They  were  well  aware  that  it  was  not  for 
their  own  sake  that  they  were  tolerated,  but  solely 
on  account  of  the  advantages  they  afforded  the 
authorities  and  the  population.  How,  then,  could 
they  be  expected  not  to  devote  themselves  to  money- 
making,  the  sole  means  by  which  they  were  enabled 
to  drag  out  a  miserable  existence  ? 

In  France,  as  in  Germany,  financial  considerations 
induced  the  rulers  to  consent  to  the  re-admission  of 
the  Jews.  The  embarrassments  resulting  from  fre- 
quent wars  with  England,  particularly  felt  after  the 
captivity  of  King  John  (September,  1356),  threatened 
to  reduce  this  chivalrous  land  to  the  condition  of  a 
province  of  the  English  crown.     Money  especially 


was  wanting.  Even  to  ransom  the  imprisoned  king 
the  assembled  States-General  did  not  vote  supplies, 
or  they  burdened  their  grant  with  heavy  conditions. 
The  third  estate  rose  in  rebellion,  and  encouraged 
the  peasants  to  throw  off  the  yoke  of  the  nobles. 
Anarchy  reigned  throughout  the  country.  At  this 
juncture  the  Jews,  with  their  financial  skill,  appeared 
to  the  dauphin  Charles,  who  acted  as  regent  during 
the  captivity  of  the  king,  as  providential  deliverers 
of  the  state.  A  clever  Jew,  Manessier  (Manecier) 
de  Vesoul,  actively  negotiated  the  return  of  the  Jews 
to  France,  whence  they  had  been  so  frequently 
banished.  The  dauphin-regent  had  granted  per- 
mission to  a  few  Jews  to  return,  but  if  the  impover- 
ished state  or  court  was  to  reap  any  real  benefit 
from  such  return,  it  was  necessary  that  it  should 
take  place  on  a  large  scale.  Hence,  the  plan  which 
Manessier  submitted  to  the  prince  was  approved  in 
every  detail,  and  the  return  of  the  Jews  for  twenty 
years  was  authorized  under  the  most  favorable  con- 
ditions. Neither  the  Jews  nor  their  representative, 
Manessier,  cared  to  take  advantage  of  so  important 
an  offer  without  the  consent  of  the  imprisoned  king. 
The  plan  was  accordingly  submitted  to  him  for  con- 
firmation. At  the  instance  of  Manessier  de  Vesoul, 
the  Jews  at  the  same  time  laid  before  the  king  a 
memorial  setting  forth  that  they  had  been  unjustly 
expelled  from  France,  and  that  they  could  not  for- 
get the  land  of  their  birth.  The  imprisoned  monarch 
then  issued  a  decree  (March,  1360),  by  which,  with 
the  consent  of  the  higher  and  lower  clergy,  the 
higher  and  lower  nobility,  and  the  third  estate,  per- 
mission was  granted  to  all  Jews  to  enter  France 
and  reside  there  for  twenty  years.  They  were 
allowed  to  take  up  their  abode  in  any  part  of  the 
country,  in  large  and  small  towns,  villages  and 
hamlets,  and  to  possess,  not  only  houses,  but  also 

The  head  of  every  Jewish  family  was,  however. 

130  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

compelled,  on  entering  the  country,  to  pay  a  sum 
of  fourteen  florins  (florins  de  Florence)  for  himself, 
and  one  florin  for  each  child  or  other  member  of 
his  family  ;  besides  this,  he  became  liable  to  an 
annual  Jew  tax  of  seven  florins,  and  one  for  each 
individual  of  his  household.  On  the  other  hand,  the 
emigrants  were  to  enjoy  extensive  privileges.  They 
were  not  amenable  to  the  jurisdiction  of  the  ordinary 
courts  or  officials,  but  had  a  special  justiciary  in  the 
person  of  Count  d'Etampes,  a  prince  of  the  blood 
royal,  who  acted  as  their  protector  (gardien,  con- 
servateur),  and  whose  duty  it  was  to  appoint  inves- 
tigating judges  and  commissioners,  and  to  safeguard 
the  interests  of  the  community  when  endangered. 
Cases  of  misdemeanor  and  crime  amongst  them- 
selves were  to  be  tried  by  two  rabbis  and  four 
assessors.  From  the  decisions  of  this  tribunal  there 
was  no  appeal.  The  property  of  the  convicted 
Jewish  criminal,  however,  became  forfeited  to  the 
king,  to  whom,  in  addition,  the  rabbis  had  to  pay 
the  sum  of  one  hundred  florins.  For  past  misde- 
meanors and  crimes  the  king  granted  them  a  com- 
plete amnesty.  They  were  protected  against  the 
violence  of  the  nobles  and  the  petty  annoyances  of 
the  clergy.  They  could  not  be  forced  to  attend 
Christian  services  or  discourses.  Their  furniture, 
cattle,  and  stores  of  grain  and  wine,  as  well  as  their 
sacred  books,  not  merely  the  Bible,  but  copies  of 
the  Talmud  also,  were  to  be  guaranteed  against  con- 
fiscation, so  that  the  public  burning  of  the  Talmud 
at  Paris  could  not  be  repeated.  The  amplest  pro- 
tection was  given  their  trade.  They  were  allowed 
to  charge  80  per  cent  interest  (4  deniers  on  the 
livre)  on  loans,  and  to  take  pledges,  their  rights 
upon  which  were  safeguarded  by  a  fence  of  laws. 
Manessier  de  Vesoul  himself,  the  active  and  zealous 
negotiator  of  these  privileges,  was  appointed  to  a 
high  position  at  court.  He  became  receiver  general 
(procureur  or  receveur-general),and  in  this  capacity 


was  responsible  for  the  punctual  payment  of  the 
Jew  taxes,  his  commission  being  nearly  14  per  cent. 
The  result  of  the  granting  of  these  privileges  was 
that  the  Jews  entered  France  in  large  numbers,  even 
foreigners  being  permitted  to  settle  there,  or  take 
up  a  more  or  less  protracted  residence. 

The  extensive  privileges  granted  to  the  Jews 
excited  envy.  The  Christian  physicians,  exposed  to 
the  competition  of  Jewish  doctors,  complained  that 
the  latter  had  not  passed  a  public  examination,  and 
denounced  them  as  charlatans.  The  judges  and 
officials,  without  power  over  the  Jews  and  having  no 
opportunity  for  extorting  money  from  them,  com- 
plained that  they  abused  their  privileges.  The 
clergy,  indignant  at  the  favored  position  of  the  Jews, 
but  having  no  real  grievance,  complained  that  they 
no  longer  wore  the  prescribed  badge.  The  feeble 
king  allowed  an  order  to  be  extorted  from  him,  to 
some  extent  in  contradiction  of  his  own  decree,  by 
which  only  such  Jews  were  to  be  permitted  to  prac- 
tice medicine  as  had  passed  an  examination,  and  all 
Jews,  not  excepting  those  even  who  enjoyed  especial 
privileges  (Manessier  and  his  family),  were  to  wear 
a  red  and  white  wheel-shaped  badge  (rouelle)  of  the 
size  of  the  royal  seal.  Finally  the  Jews  were  re-com- 
mitted to  the  jurisdiction  of  the  ordinary  courts,  and 
the  earlier  arrangements  annulled. 

As  soon  as  the  politic  dauphin  ascended  the 
throne,  under  the  title  of  Charles  V,  and  adopted  a 
strict  system  of  government,  to  deliver  himself  from 
dependence  on  the  States-General  (May,  1364),  he 
proceeded  to  assure  himself  of  the  sources  of 
revenue  possessed  by  the  Jews.  He  restored  the 
privileges  partly  abolished  by  his  father,  lengthened 
the  period  of  residence  by  six  years,  and  secretly 
granted  permission  to  Hebrew  money  dealers  to 
exceed  the  charge  of  80  per  cent  on  loans.  At  the 
instance  of  Manessier  de  Vesoul,  always  zealous 
in  the  interests  of  his  co-religionists,  the  Jews  were 

132  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

again  withdrawn  from  the  jurisdiction  of  the  ordi- 
nary tribunals,  and  committed  to  the  care  of  their 
official  protector,  Count  d'  Etampes.  The  clergy, 
whose  hatred  of  the  Jews  bordered  on  inhumanity, 
were  rendered  powerless.  In  the  south  of  France, 
the  heads  of  the  church  had  threatened  with  excom- 
munication any  Christians  who  should  trade  with 
Jews,  or  provide  them  with  fire,  water,  bread,  or 
wine,  and  by  this  means,  had  so  stirred  up  the 
fanaticism  of  the  people,  that  the  lives  and  prop- 
erty of  the  Jews  were  imperiled.  To  counteract 
this,  the  governor  of  Languedoc  issued,  in  the  name 
of  the  king,  an  ordinance  informing  the  officials, 
both  lay  and  ecclesiastical,  that  all  who  exhibited 
hostility  toward  the  Jews  would  be  unsparingly 
punished  in  person  and  substance. 

During  the  reign  of  Charles  V  (1364 — 1380), 
then,  the  condition  of  the  Jews  was  at  least  endur- 
able. Manessier  remained  receiver  general  of  the 
Jew  taxes  for  the  north  of  France  (Langue  d'Oyl), 
and  the  same  functions  were  discharged  by  Denis 
Quinon  in  Languedoc.  On  the  complaint  of  the 
latter  that  a  few  Jewish  converts,  in  conjunction 
with  the  Christian  clergy,  had  forced  their  former 
brethren  to  attend  the  churches  to  hear  sermons, 
the  king  issued  a  rescript  (March,  1368)  severely 
prohibiting  all  such  unseemly  compulsion.  Sub- 
sequently, Charles  prolonged  the  period  for  remain- 
ing in  the  country  by  ten  years,  and  later  on  by  six 
more.  All  this  was  brought  about  by  the  indefatig- 
able Manessier  (1374).  His  zeal  in  the  Jewish 
cause  and  the  advantages  the  king  derived  from  his 
exertions  were  rewarded  by  the  exemption  of  him- 
self and  his  family  from  every  kind  of  tax,  contri- 
bution and  service  to  the  crown  (1375). 

Although  the  German  and  French  Jews  appeared 
to  revive  after  their  dreadful  sufferings,  it  was  only 
a  material  revival ;  their  spirit  remained  dead.  Their 
intellectual  powers  had  disappeared.     In    France, 


where,  during  more  than  two  centuries,  from  Rashi 
to  the  last  of  the  Tossafists,  the  study  of  the  Talmud 
had  been  carried  to  its  most  flourishing  point,  and 
where  remarkable  acuteness  and  intellectual  depth 
had  been  developed,  the  new  emigrants  exhibited  so 
astonishing  an  ignorance  that  they  were  obliged  to 
commence  their  studies  anew.     The  indulgences  of 
the   kings,  John   and   Charles,  certainly   spoke  of 
rabbis  who  should  be  invested  with  authority  to  try 
Jewish  criminals  ;  but  there  was  not  a  single  pro- 
found Talmudist  among  them  ;  indeed,  according  to 
the  avowal  of  contemporary  writers,  not  more  than 
five  of  even  mediocre  attainments.  The  only  devotee 
of  Talmudical  study,  Mattathiah  ben  Joseph  Provenci, 
has  left  nothing  in  writing  to  testify  to  his  ability. 
Held  in  such  esteem  by  Charles  V  that  he  and  his 
family  were  exempted  from  wearing  the  distinctive 
badges  prescribed  by  law,  and  apparently  related  to 
the  receiver  general,  Manessier  de  Vesoul,  Mata- 
thiah  was  in  the  best  position  to  deal  with  the  pre- 
vailing ignorance.     He  re-established  a  college  at 
Paris,   assembled   pupils,    expounded   the   Talmud 
to  them,  ordained  them  to  rabbinical  offices,  and 
caused  copies  of  the  Talmud   to   be   written.     In 
consequence  of  his  energy  and  his  comparatively 
great  learning,  he  was  chosen  by  the  newly  estab- 
lished French   communities  to  the  office   of  chief 
rabbi  and  chief  justice  in  civil  and  penal  cases,  his 
appointment  being  confirmed   by  the  king.      His 
school  had  to  supply  the  communities  with  rabbis, 
but  his  pupils  enriched  rabbinical  literature  by  their 
contributions  as  little  as  he  himself  Even  Provence, 
once  so  fruitful  of  Jewish  literature,   had  become 
intellectually  impoverished. 

In  Germany,  where  the  rabbis  had  once  been  so 
proud  of  their  traditional  knowledge,  the  Black 
Death,  with  its  attendant  persecutions  and  banish- 
ments, had  so  thinned  the  ranks  of  the  Jews  that 
extraordinary  intellectual  decay  had  set  in.     The 

134  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

illiterate  and  the  superficial,  in  the  absence  of  better 
men,  were  inducted  into  rabbinical  offices.  This 
mischievous  practice  was  vigorously  opposed  by 
Meir  ben  Baruch  Halevi,  a  rabbi,  who,  in  his  time, 
passed  for  a  great  authority  in  Germany  (1370 — 
1390).  Rabbi  at  Vienna,  as  his  father  had  been 
before  him,  Meir  Halevi  (Segal)  ordered  that  no 
Talmudical  student  should  exercise  rabbinical  func- 
tions unless  authorized  by  a  rabbi  of  standing. 
Until  then  it  had  been  the  practice  for  anyone  who 
felt  able  and  willing  to  assume  the  rabbinical  office 
without  further  ceremony,  or,  if  he  perchance  settled 
in  the  neighborhood  of  his  teacher,  to  obtain  per- 
mission from  him.  As  from  the  time  of  Gershom  of 
Mayence  there  had  always  been  great  Talmudists 
in  Germany,  public  opinion  counteracted  the  abuse 
of  this  liberty  ;  for  had  an  unqualified  person  arro- 
gated to  himself  the  exercise  of  rabbinical  functions, 
he  would  have  incurred  general  derision  and  con- 
tempt. After  the  Black  Death,  however,  this  deter- 
rent lost  much  of  its  force  through  the  scarcity  of 
Talmudists.  The  order  of  Meir  of  Vienna,  that 
every  rabbi  should  be  ordained,  that  he  should  earn 
the  title  (Morenu),  and  that,  without  such  prepara- 
tion, he  should  be  precluded  from  dealing  with  matri- 
monial matters,  marriages  and  divorces,  was  dictated 
by  the  exigencies  of  the  times,  not  the  presumptu- 
ousness  of  its  author.  The  insignificance  of  even 
the  most  respected  of  the  German  rabbis  of  this 
period  is  apparent  from  the  fact  that  not  one  of  them 
has  left  any  important  Talmudical  work ;  that,  on 
the  contrary,  they  all  pursued  a  course  productive 
of  mental  stagnation.  Meir  Halevi,  his  colleague 
Abraham  Klausner,  and  Shalom,  of  Austria,  rabbi 
at  Neustadt,  near  Vienna,  devoted  themselves 
exclusively  to  writing  down  and  perpetuating  the 
customs  of  the  communities  (Minhagim),  to  which, 
formerly,  but  very  little  attention  had  been  given. 
They  and  their  disciples,  Isaac  Tyrnau  of  Hungary, 

CH.  IV.  SYNOD    AT    MAYENCE.  1 35 

and  Jacob  Molin  (Maharil)  have  left  behind  them 
nothing  but  such  insipid  compilations.  If  the 
Austrian  school,  which  at  this  time  preponderated, 
was  so  wanting  in  intellectuality,  how  much  more 
the  Rhenish,  from  which  only  names  have  come 
down  to  us. 

Through  the  disasters  that  resulted  from  the 
Black  Death,  the  memories  of  old  times  had  become 
so  obliterated  that  the  Rhenish  rabbis  found  them- 
selves compelled,  in  consequence  of  differences  of 
opinion  on  points  of  marriage  law,  to  convene  a 
synod,  exclusively  for  the  purpose  of  restoring  old 
regulations.  At  the  meeting  at  Mayence  (15th 
Ab — 5th  August,  1 381)  a  few  of  the  rabbis,  together 
with  some  of  the  communal  leaders,  renewed  the 
old  decisions  of  Speyer,  Worms  and  Mayence 
(Tekanoth  Shum) ;  as,  for  instance,  that  the  childless 
widow  should  be  released,  without  extortion  or 
delay,  from  the  obligation  of  marrying  her  brother- 
in-law,  and  should  receive  a  definite  portion  of  the 
property  left  by  her  husband.  Among  the  rabbis 
who  took  part  in  this  synod  there  is  not  one  name 
of  note. 



The  Jews  of  Spain  after  the  Civil  War — ^Joseph  Pichon  and  Samuel 
Abrabanel — The  Apostates :  John  of  ValladoUd — Menachem  ben 
Zerach,  Chasdai  Crescas,  and  Isaac  ben  Sheshet — Chayim  Galli- 
papa  and  his  Innovations — Prevot  Aubriot  and  the  Jews  of 
Paris — The  French  Rabbinate — Revival  of  Jewish  Influence  in 
Spain — The  Jews  of  Portugal — The  Jewish  Statesmen,  David 
and  Judah  Negro — Rabbis  and  Clergy — Persecutions  in  Germany 
and  Spain — The  First  Germs  of  the  Inquisition — Second  Expul- 
sion of  the  Jews  from  France — The  Convert,  Pessach-Peter — 
Lipmann  of  Miihlhausen. 

1369 — 1380  c.  E. 

The  heart  of  the  Jewish  race  had  become  not 
less  crippled  and  sickly  than  its  members.  In  Spain 
disintegrating  forces  were  at  work  on  the  firm 
nucleus  of  Judaism,  which  had  so  long  defied  the 
corroding  influences  of  ecclesiastical  and  civil  ani- 
mosity. The  prince,  whom  the  Jews  at  the  dictates 
of  their  loyalty  had  so  sturdily  resisted,  against 
whom  they  had  even  taken  up  arms  ;  the  bastard, 
Don  Henry  de  Trastamara ;  the  rebel  who  had 
brought  civil  war  upon  his  native  land,  and  flooded 
it  with  a  marauding  soldiery ;  the  fratricide,  who  had 
burst  the  bonds  alike  of  nature  and  law,  had,  after 
the  victory  of  Montiel,  seized  the  scepter  with  his 
blood-stained  hands,  and  placed  the  stolen  crown  of 
Castile  on  his  guilty  head.  Of  the  large  Jewish 
population,  a  considerable  proportion  had,  during 
the  protracted  and  embittered  civil  war,  met  death 
on  the  field  of  battle,  in  the  beleaguered  towns,  and, 
armed  and  unarmed  alike,  at  the  swords  of  the 
mercenaries  of  the  "white  company." 

The  Jewish  community  of  Toledo,  the  Castilian 
capital — the  "Crown  of  Israel"  of  the  Middle  Ages, 
and,  in  a  measure,  the  Jerusalem  of  the  Occident — • 

CH,  V.  DON   HENRY   II.  137 

did  not  number,  after  the  raising  of  the  siege,  as 
many  hundreds  of  Jews  as  previously  thousands.  The 
remainder  of  the  Jews  of  Castile  had  been  reduced 
to  beggary  by  the  depredations  and  confiscations  of 
friend  and  foe.  Not  a  few,  in  their  despair,  had 
thrown  themselves  into  the  arms  of  Christianity.  A 
striking  picture  of  the  unhappy  condition  of  the 
Castilian  communities  at  this  period  is  furnished  by 
a  contemporary  writer,  Samuel  ^ar^a  :  "  In  truth, 
plunderers  followed  on  plunderers,  money  vanished 
from  the  purse,  souls  from  the  bodies ;  all  the  pre- 
cursory sufferings  of  the  Messianic  period  arrived 
— but  the  Redeemer  came  not!  " 

After  Don  Henry's  victory,  the  Jews  had  good 
reason  to  tremble.  One  pretext  for  making  war  on 
his  brother  was  the  favor  shown  by  Don  Pedro  to 
Jews.  Now  he  had  become  the  arbiter  of  their 
destinies.  Would  he  not,  like  another  Vespasian 
or  Hadrian,  place  his  foot  on  the  necks  of  the  van- 
quished? The  gloomiest  of  their  anticipations,  how- 
ever, were  not  realized.  Don  Henry  II  was  as  little 
able  to  dispense  with  the  Jews  as  his  predecessors, 
or  the  French  and  German  princes.  Jews  were  the 
only  financiers  able  to  keep  the  state  exchequer  in 
prosperity  and  order,  and  for  this  purpose  Don 
Henry  stood  in  need  of  them  more  than  ever. 
During  the  war  he  had  incurred  debts  for  the  pay- 
ment of  the  troops  with  which  Du  Guesclin  had 
assisted  him,  and  for  help  received  in  other  quarters 
he  had  made  promises  which  had  to  be  redeemed. 
The  countr}'  had  become  impoverished  by  the  pro- 
tracted war.  Who  was  to  procure  the  necessary 
sums,  and  provide  for  the  systematic  collection  of 
the  taxes,  if  not  the  Jews  ?  Henry  was  not  blind  to 
the  merits  of  the  Jews  exemplified  in  their  constancy 
to  his  brother.  Instead  of  punishing  the  conquered, 
he  appreciated  their  fidelity,  saying :  "  Such  subjects 
a  king  must  love  and  reward,  because  they  main- 
tained proper  loyalty  to  their  conquered  king  unto 
death,  and  did  not  surrender  to  the  victor." 

138  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  V. 

Don  Henry,  then,  was  guilty  of  the  conduct  which, 
in  the  case  of  his  brother,  he  branded  as  a  crime  in 
the  eyes  of  all  Christendom ;  he  employed  able  Jews 
in  the  service  of  the  state,  confiding  to  them  the 
finances  in  particular.  Two  Jews  from  Seville,  Don 
Joseph  Pichon  and  Don  Samuel  Abrabanel,  he  ap- 
pointed to  important  posts,  the  former  as  receiver 
general  of  taxes,  and  Almoxarif  to  the  king,  by 
whom  he  was  held  in  high  esteem.  Other  Jews, 
distinguished  for  their  ability  or  their  wealth,  had 
access  to  Don  Henry's  court. 

If  the  king  bore  the  Jews  no  grudge  for  the  part 
they  had  taken  in  the  war  against  him,  the  general 
population  was  not  so  magnanimous.  The  nobility 
and  the  commonalty  could  not  forgive  their  having 
confronted  them  as  foes  in  the  besieged  towns  and 
on  the  open  battle-fields.  A  passion  for  venge- 
ance, linked  with  the  usual  Jew-hatred,  blinded 
them  to  the  benefits  which  the  Jews  contributed 
to  the  welfare  of  the  state,  and  their  only  thought 
was  how  to  gratify  their  resentment.  The  Jews, 
being  the  vanquished,  ought,  as  they  thought,  to 
be  reduced  to  a  kind  of  serfdom.  The  hostile 
feeling  of  the  populace  manifested  itself  on  the 
assembling  of  the  first- cortes  at  Toro  (1371). 
Here  the  enemies  of  the  Jews  opened  the  attack. 
The  cortes  expressed  to  the  king  their  displeasure 
that  this  "evil,  audacious  race,"  these  enemies 
of  God  and  Christendom,  were  employed  in 
"high  offices "  at  court  and  by  the  grandees  of 
the  realm,  and  that  the  farming  of  the  taxes  was 
confided  to  them,  by  which  means  feeble  Christians 
were  held  in  subjection  and  fear.  The  cortes  ac- 
cordingly made  explicit  demands  upon  the  crown 
with  respect  to  the  Jews.  From  that  time  forward 
they  were  not  to  be  eligible  for  any  kind  of  state 
employment;  they  were  to  live  in  Jewish  quarters 
separated  from  the  Christian  population,  be  forced  to 
wear  Jew-badges,  be  prohibited  from  appearing  in 

CH.  V.  JEAV    BADGES.  139 

public  in  rich  apparel,  from  riding  on  mules,  and  from 
bearing  Christian  names.  To  Don  Henry  these  de- 
mands were  very  unwelcome,  but  he  dared  not  re- 
fuse some  concessions.  The  majority  he  dismissed 
with  the  remark  that  in  his  treatment  of  Jews  he  only 
followed  the  example  of  his  ancestors,  especially 
that  of  his  father,  Alfonso  XI.  The  two  restrictions 
conceded  were,  if  not  of  material  significance,  yet 
calculated  to  have  a  sinister  effect.  These  were 
that  the  Castilian  Jews  should  don  the  degrading 
badges,  and  give  up  their  Spanish  names.  The 
pride  of  the  Jews,  equal  to  that  of  the  grandees  and 
the  hidalgos,  was  deeply  wounded.  A  century  and 
a  half  had  elapsed  since  the  canonical  law  concern- 
ing the  Jew-badge,  the  outcome  of  papal  intolerance 
and  arrogance,  had  been  promulgated.  During  the 
whole  of  that  period  the  Jews  of  Castile  had  been 
able  to  prevent  its  application  to  themselves,  but 
now  they  also  were  to  be  compelled  to  wear  the 
stigma  on  their  garments.  They  who  had  been  ac- 
customed to  hold  their  heads  high,  and  rejoice  in 
sounding  titles,  were,  like  the  German  Jews,  to  slink 
along  with  downcast  eyes,  and  be  called  by  their 
Oriental  names.  They  could  not  accustom  them- 
selves to  this  humiliating"  situation. 

In  consequence  of  an  outcry  made  by  some  of  his 
subjects,  who  had  been  ruined  by  loans  from  Jewish 
creditors,  and  complained  of  usurious  interest,  Don 
Henry  made  encroachments  upon  their  private 
rights.  He  decided  that  if  the  Christian  debtors 
discharged  their  obligations  within  a  short  space  of 
time,  they  need  refund  only  two-thirds  of  the  prin- 
cipal borrowed. 

The  misery  resulting  from  the  civil  war  and  the 
new  restrictions  exercised  a  depressing  effect  on  the 
Castilian  Jews.  Their  most  prominent  men,  those 
who  had  access  to  court,  and  possessed  wealth  and 
influence,  especially  Samuel  Abrabanel,  exerted 
themselves  to  remedy  the  gloomy  state  of  affairs. 

140  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

They  particularly  endeavored  to  restore  the  abased, 
impoverished,  and  disorganized  community  of  To- 
ledo ;  but  it  was  beyond  their  power  to  revive  the 
scholarly  culture  and  intellectual  distinction  to  which 
the  Toledo  community  had  been  as  much  indebted 
for  its  leading  position  as  to  the  prosperity  of  its 
members.  The  unhappy  war,  and  the  evils  follow- 
ing in  its  trail,  had  stunted  the  Jewish  mind,  and 
diverted  it  from  intellectual  to  material  interests. 
Disorganization  proceeded  with  great  strides.  In- 
difference to  scientific  work  resulted  in  so  general 
an  ignorance,  that  what  formerly  every  tyro  was  fa- 
miliar with  now  passed  for  transcendent  wisdom. 
We  have  an  example  of  the  mawkishness  to  which 
the  new  Hebrew  poetry  had  fallen  in  the  verses  of 
the  poetaster  Zarak  (Zerach)  Barfat,  who,  in  a  poet- 
ical paraphrase  of  the  book  of  Job,  completely  mar- 
red the  beauties  of  that  work  of  art.  Just  at  this 
period  men  of  learning  and  ability  were  urgently 
required,  for  representatives  of  Christianity  began 
to  make  earnest  and  energetic  attacks  on  Judaism 
to  obtain  converts  from  amongst  its  adherents. 

Don  Henry  had  much  to  thank  the  clergy  for  ; 
they  had  sanctified  his  usurpation,  and  acquiesced 
in  his  arrogated  succession.  From  gratitude  and  a 
false  conception  of  religiousness,  he  conceded  much 
to  them.  At  his  command,  Jews  were  again  forced 
to  take  part  in  religious  debates,  in  which  there  was 
much  to  lose  and  nothing  to  gain. 

Two  baptized  Jews  received  from  the  king  the 
privilege  of  holding  religious  discussions  in  every 
province  and  town  of  Castile,  which  they  might  com- 
pel Jews  to  attend. 

One  of  these  apostates  was  John  of  Valladolid. 
At  Burgos  the  discussion  took  place  before  Arch- 
bishop Gomez  of  Toledo.  At  Avila  the  whole  com- 
munity was  compelled  to  repair  to  the  great  church 
(1375),  where  the  debate  was  carried  on  in  the 
presence   of    many   Christians    and   Mahometans. 


Moses  Cohen  de  Tordesillas,  who  was  as  familiar 
with  Christian  as  with  Jewish  theological  authorities, 
appeared  on  behalf  of  the  Jews.  He  entered  upon 
his  dangerous  enterprise  with  trepidation,  for  he  had 
had  an  opportunity  to  form  an  estimate  of  Christian 
charity.  During  the  civil  war,  Christian  marauders 
had  robbed  him  of  all  his  possessions,  and  had  even 
personally  ill-used  him  in  order  to  force  him  to  em- 
brace Christianity.  All  these  trials  he  had  suffered 
with  the  courage  of  strong  convictions,  but  he  had 
become  so  poverty-stricken  that  he  had  to  accept 
support  from  the  community  of  Avila. 

Moses  de  Tordesillas  did  not  find  his  part  in  the 
discussion  too  difficult.  The  apostate  John  of  Valla- 
dolid  laid  stress  on  the  proposition  that  the  dogmas 
of  Christianity — the  Messianic  claim,  the  Divinity 
and  Incarnation  of  Jesus,  the  Trinity,  and  the  Vir- 
ginity of  the  "  Mother  of  God" — could  be  demon- 
strated from  the  Old  Testament.  It  was  consequently 
not  difficult  for  his  Jewish  opponent  to  confute  his 
arguments.  After  four  debates  John  was  obliged  to 
abandon  his  task,  vanquished.  This,  however,  did 
not  conclude  the  matter.  A  pupil  of  the  apostate, 
Abner-Alfonso,  appeared  soon  after,  and  challenged 
Moses  de  Tordesillas  to  a  debate  on  the  Talmud 
and  Agadic  texts.  In  case  of  refusal,  he  threatened 
publicly  to  impeach  the  Talmud  as  the  source  of 
anti-Christian  sentiments.  Moses  was  again  forced 
to  meet  a  series  of  silly  assertions  and  charges,  and 
to  drag  himself  through  the  thorny  length  of  another 
controversy.  By  the  advice  of  the  Avila  community, 
he  committed  to  writing  the  principal  arguments 
used  in  these  discussions  under  the  title,  "  Ezer  ha- 
Emuna,"  and  sent  them  to  his  Toledan  brethren  for 
use  under  similar  circumstances.  Moses  de  Torde- 
sillas' disputations,  notwithstanding  the  difficulties  of 
his  position,  were  characterized  by  calmness  and 
equanimity.  Not  a  word  of  abuse  or  invective 
escaped  him,  and  he  counseled  his  Toledo  brethren 

142  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

not  to  permit  themselves  to  be  tempted  by  their  zeal 
to  vexatious  expressions,  "for  it  is  a  fact,"  he  said, 
"  that  the  Christians  possess  the  power  and  disposi- 
tion to  silence  truth  by  force."  Toledo,  formerly 
recognized  as  the  teacher  of  Jewry,  was  now 
obliged  to  play  the  part  of  pupil,  and  follow  formu- 
laries in  the  disputations  to  which  its  members  might 
be  invited. 

As  if  the  more  far-seeing  Jews  had  anticipated 
the  approach  of  the  gloomiest  era  of  Spanish  Juda- 
ism, they  provided  their  co-religionists  for  the  coming 
struggle  with  casque  and  buckler,  so  that  the  inexor- 
able foe  might  not  surprise  them  unarmed.  A 
Spanish  Jew,  contemporary  with  Moses  de  Tordesil- 
las,  compiled  a  polemical  work,  more  exhaustive 
than  its  predecessor,  defending  Judaism  and  attack- 
ing Christianity.  Shem-Tob  ben  Isaac  Shaprut  of 
Tudela  had  at  an  early  age  been  forced  into  the 
position  of  a  defender  of  his  brethren  against  pro- 
selytizing attempts.  Cardinal  Don  Pedro  de  Luna, 
who  later  on,  as  Pope  Benedict  XIII,  brought  so 
much  confusion  into  the  church  and  evil  on  the  Jews, 
was  possessed  of  a  perfect  mania  for  conversion  and 
religious  controversy.  At  Pampeluna  he  summoned 
Shem-Tob  ben  Shaprut  to  a  debate  on  original  sin 
and  salvation,  and  the  latter  was  compelled  to  sus- 
tain his  part  in  the  presence  of  bishops  and  learned 
prelates.  The  war  between  England  and  Castile, 
the  scene  of  which  was  Navarre,  obliged  Shem-Tob 
ben  Shaprut,  with  many  other  Jews,  to  quit  the 
country  (1378)  and  settle  in  the  neighboring  town 
of  Tarazona,  in  Aragon.  Observing  here  that  Jews 
of  the  stamp  of  John  de  Valladolid  were  extremely 
zealous  in  the  promotion  of  religious  discussions,  the 
conversion  of  weaklings,  and  the  maligning  of  Jewish 
literature,  he  published  (1380)  a  comprehensive  work 
("Eben  Bochan"),  unmasking  the  speciousness  of 
the  arguments  deduced  by  Christian  controversial- 
ists from  the  Bible  and  the  Talmud.     The  work  is 


written  in  the  form  of  a  discussion  between  a 
believer  in  the  unity  of  God  and  a  Trinitarian.  To 
enable  the  Jews  to  use  weapons  out  of  the  Christian 
armory,  Shem-Tob  ben  Shaprut  translated  into 
Hebrew  extracts  from  the  four  Gospels,  with  incisive 
commentaries.  Subsequently  the  anti-Jewish  work 
of  the  apostate  Abner-Alfonso  fell  into  his  hands, 
and  he  refuted  it,  argument  by  argument. 

These  polemical  works  did  not  prove  of  far- 
reaching  importance  ;  at  any  rate,  their  effect  was 
not  what  their  authors  had  expected.  The  Jews  of 
Spain  did  not  so  much  stand  in  need  of  writings  as 
of  men  of  force  of  character,  commanding  person- 
ality and  dignity,  able  to  raise,  if  not  the  masses,  at 
least  the  half-educated  classes,  and  imbue  them  with 
somewhat  of  their  own  spirit.  The  ban  against  sci- 
entific studies,  pronounced  by  excessive  fear  and 
extreme  religiousness,  notably  avenged  itself.  It 
dwarfed  the  intelligence  of  the  people,  and  deprived 
them  of  that  capacity  for  appreciating  the  signs  of 
the  times  which  only  a  liberal  education  can  develop. 
Even  faith  suffered  from  this  want  of  culture  in  the 
rising  generation.  Only  one  Jew  of  profound  phil- 
osophic genius  stands  out  prominently  in  the  his- 
tory of  this  period,  and  the  influence  he  exerted  over 
a  rather  small  circle  was  due  less  to  his  superior 
intelligence  than  to  his  position  and  Talmudic 
knowledge.  The  majority  of  the  Spanish  rabbis, 
if  not  actually  hostile,  were  indifferent  to  the  sci- 
ences, especially  to  religious  philosophy.  Only  lay- 
men devoted  themselves  to  such  pursuits,  and  they 
were  neither  exhaustive  in  their  inquiries  nor  crea- 
tive in  their  speculations.  It  is  characteristic  of  this 
period  that  Maimuni's  philosophical  "Guide  of  the 
Perplexed"  was  entirely  neglected,  the  fashion 
being  to  read  and  discuss  Ibn-Ezra.  The  frag- 
mentary nature  of  the  writings  of  this  commentator, 
the  ingenuity  and  acuteness,  the  disjointedness  of 
thought,  the  variety  of  matter,  which  characterize 

144  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

his  work,  appealed  to  the  shallowness  of  this  retro- 
grade generation.  Shem-Tob  ben  Shaprut,  Samuel 
(Jarga,  Joseph  Tob-Elem,  Ezra  Gatifio,  and  others 
wrote  super-commentaries  on  Ibn-Ezra's  commen- 
tary on  the  Pentateuch.  The  solution  of  riddles 
propounded  by  Ibn-Ezra,  and  the  discovery  of  his 
secrets,  and  explanations  of  his  obscurities,  seriously 
exercised  the  minds  of  large  circles  of  students. 

The  Talmud,  with  which  the  more  thoughtful 
minds,  prompted  by  a  religious  bias,  continued  to 
be  engaged,  fared  no  better  than  secular  learning. 
Here,  also,  a  state  of  stagnation,  if  nothing  worse,  had 
supervened.  The  rabbis  of  some  large  communities 
were  not  even  able  to  discharge  one  of  their  chief 
duties,  the  explanation  of  the  Talmud  to  their  dis- 
ciples. A  French  Talmudist,  Solomon  ben  Abra- 
ham Zarfati,  who  had  settled  at  Majorca,  could 
venture  to  speak  slightingly  of  the  Spanish  rabbis, 
not  excepting  the  celebrated  Nissim  Gerundi,  and 
compare  them  disparagingly  with  the  French  and 
German  rabbis.  A  measure  of  the  average  intelli- 
gence of  the  rabbis  of  this  period  is  yielded  by  the 
works  of  Menachem  ben  Zerach,  chief  rabbi  of 
Toledo,  even  after  its  misfortunes  a  very  important 
Jewish  community. 

Menachem  ben  Aaron  ben  Zerach  (born  1310, 
died  1385)  counted  several  martyrs  in  his  family. 
His  father,  Aaron,  was  one  of  the  unfortunates 
whom  the  cupidity  and  tyranny  of  a  French  king 
had  banished.  With  the  limited  means  spared  by 
legalized  robbery  he  had  settled  in  Estella,  a  not 
inconsiderable  Navarrese  community.  His  father, 
mother,  and  four  brothers  perished  in  the  massacre 
of  Jews  instigated  by  a  Dominican  friar.  Young 
Menachem  was  severely  wounded  in  this  outbreak, 
and  might  have  succumbed  but  for  the  assistance  of 
a  nobleman  of  his  father's  acquaintance.  On  his 
recovery  he  devoted  himself  daily  to  Talmudical 
study,  and  later  on  attended  the  celebrated  schooj 


of  the  Asheride  Judah  of  Toledo.  After  he  had 
passed  his  fortieth  year,  Menachem  ben  Zerach 
became  chief  of  an  academy,  the  care  of  which  was 
confided  to  him  by  the  Alcala  (de  Henares)  com- 
munity. During  the  civil  war  in  Castile  he  was 
wounded  and  plundered  by  the  lawless  soldiery, 
and  of  his  entire  fortune,  only  his  house,  field,  and 
collection  of  books  remained.  Don  Samuel  Abra- 
banel  assisted  him  in  his  distress,  so  that  he  was 
enabled  to  recover  somewhat  from  his  misfortunes. 
Through  his  interposition  Menachem  was  called 
from  Alcala  to  assume  the  rabbinate  of  Toledo, 
where  he  opened  an  academy.  As  the  disciple  and 
successor  of  Jehuda  Asheri,  considerable  Tal- 
mudical  attainments  were  with  justice  expected  of 
him.  But  he  did  not  rise  above  the  mediocrity  of 
his  times.  To  remedy  the  increasing  ignorance  of 
religious  forms  and  duties,  he  wrote  a  compendium 
of  theoretic  and  practical  Judaism  ("Zeda  la- 
Derech,"  1374),  as  comprehensible  as  it  was  short, 
for  the  use  of  prominent  Jews,  who,  employed  at 
court  and  by  the  grandees,  had  not  sufficient  leisure 
to  search  an  extensive  literature  for  instruction. 
His  work  is  interspersed  with  scientific  elements — 
psychological  and  religio-philosophical — but  it  is 
weak  and  commonplace,  full  of  platitudes,  and  its 
several  parts  do  not  cohere.  Even  the  Talmudical 
elements  are  neither  profound  nor  original.  The 
only  redeeming  feature  is  that  it  is  conceived  in  a 
warm,  sympathetic  spirit,  distinguishing  it  from  the 
usually  dry  rabbinical  disquisitions. 

Only  two  men  of  this  time  are  raised  by  their 
character  and  learning  above  the  dead  level  of  pre- 
vailing mediocrity:  Chasdai  Crescas  and  Isaac  ben 
Sheshet.  They  both  lived  in  the  kingdom  of  Ara- 
gon,  where  the  Jews  under  Pedro  IV  and  Juan  I 
were  neither  so  poor  nor  so  oppressed  as  their  breth- 
ren in  Castile.  Chasdai  Crescas  and  Isaac  ben  She- 
shet were  not  sufficiently  great  to  dominate  their 

146  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

contemporaries,  or  prescribe  their  own  views  as 
rules  of  conduct;  they  were,  however,  the  foci  of 
large  circles,  and  were  frequently  appealed  to  for 
final  decisions  on  complicated  and  difficult  questions. 
Both  worked  earnestly  for  the  maintenance  and 
furtherance  of  Judaism,  for  the  preservation  of  peace 
in  the  communities  at  home  and  abroad,  and  for  the 
consolation  and  re-animation  of  the  broken  in  spirit, 
notwithstanding  that  their  means  were  limited,  and 
the  times  unpropitious. 

Chasdai  ben  Abraham  Crescas  (born  1340,  died 
1410),  originally  of  Barcelona,  and  subsequently  of 
Saragossa,  where  he  ended  his  days,  did  not  belong 
to  the  class  of  ordained  rabbis,  but  he  had  been 
educated  on  Talmudical  lines,  and  was  an  accom- 
plished Talmudist.  His  wealth  and  his  occupa- 
tions seem  to  have  indisposed  him  for  this  honor- 
able position.  Chasdai  Crescas  was  in  close  relation 
with  the  court  of  Juan  I,  of  Aragon,  was  frequently 
consulted  on  important  state  questions,  and  also  had 
much  intercourse  with  the  grandees  of  the  kingdom. 
In  the  views  of  the  various  schools  of  philosophy  he 
was  well  versed  ;  the  independence  and  depth  of 
thought  he  evinced  in  dealing  with  them  stamp  him 
an  original  thinker.  His  ideas,  of  course,  were 
largely  based  upon  religious,  or  rather  Jewish  con- 
victions, which,  however,  he  presented  in  an  original 
form.  Chasdai  Crescas  was  the  first  to  recognize 
the  weak  points  of  the  prevailing  Aristotelianism, 
and  he  attacked  it  with  irresistible  force.  Of  his 
youth  nothing  is  known,  and  it  is  impossible  to  say 
under  what  influences  those  ripe  powers  of  mind 
were  developed  which  enabled  him  to  question  the 
authority  not  only  of  Maimonides  and  Gersonides, 
but  of  Aristotle  himself.  His  ancestors  were  learned 
Talmudists,  and  his  grandfather  enjoyed  a  reputa- 
tion equal  to  that  of  the  famous  Asheri  family.  In 
Talmudical  studies  he  was  a  disciple  of  Nissim 
Gerundi,  of  Barcelona.     Chasdai  Crescas  was  kind 


and  gentle,  a  friend  in  need,  and  a  faithful  defender 
of  the  weak.  During  the  unhappy  days  which  broke 
upon  the  Jews  of  Spain  in  his  lifetime,  he  devoted 
all  his  powers  to  the  mitigation  of  the  disasters 
which  befell  his  brethren. 

Similar  in  character,  but  fundamentally  opposed 
to  him  in  the  disposition  of  his  mind,  was  his  friend 
and  senior,  Isaac  ben  Sheshet  Barfat  (Ribash,  born 
1 3  lo,  died  about  1 409) .  A  native  of  Barcelona,  and 
having  studied  under  Ben  Adret's  son  and  pupils, 
Isaac  ben  Sheshet  may,  in  a  measure,  be  considered 
a  disciple  of  Ben  Adret.  He  acquired  his  teacher's 
capacity  for  seizing  the  spirit  of  the  Talmud  and 
expounding  it  lucidly,  and  far  surpassed  him  in  hos- 
tility to  secular  studies.  Ben  Adret  had  permitted 
the  circumstances  of  his  times  to  extort  from  him 
the  prohibition  of  such  studies,  as  far  as  raw  youths 
were  concerned  ;  Ben  Sheshet,  in  his  rigid  ortho- 
doxy, took  the  view  that  even  mature  men  should 
hold  aloof  from  them,  although  at  that  period  there 
was  but  little  fear  of  heresy.  The  physical  sciences 
and  philosophy,  he  held,  should  be  completely 
avoided,  as  they  were  calculated  to  undermine  the 
two  essential  supports  of  the  Torah,  the  doctrines 
of  the  creation,  and  of  a  Providence  ;  because  they 
exalted  reason  over  faith,  and  generated  doubts  of 
miracles.  In  Gersonides,  and  even  Maimuni,  Ben 
Sheshet  found  illustrations  of  the  pernicious  effects 
of  philosophic  speculation.  He  granted  that  they 
were  men  of  incomparable  genius,  but  he  insisted 
that  they  had  been  seduced  by  philosophy  to  adopt 
heterodox  views,  and  explain  certain  miracles  of  the 
Bible  rationalistically.  Ben  Sheshet  was  of  high 
moral  character  ;  his  disposition  was  kindly,  and  on 
several  occasions  he  willingly  sacrificed  his  personal 
interests  to  adv^ance  the  common  good  and  to  pro- 
mote peace.  But  when  he  suspected  the  violation 
of  a  Talmudical  precept  or  the  non-observance  of 
even  an  unessential  custom,  his  mildness  was  imme- 
diately transformed  into  most  obdurate  severity. 

148  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

On  account  of  his  Talmudical  learning,  his  clear, 
penetrating  intellect,  and  his  irreproachable  char- 
acter, he  was  much  sought  after.  The  important 
community  of  Saragossa  elected  him  its  rabbi. 
Immediately  on  taking  office,  Isaac  ben  Sheshet 
gave  an  illustration  of  the  tenacity  with  which  he 
clung  to  the  letter  of  the  Law,  even  when  it  con- 
flicted with  the  spirit.  He  observed,  with  regret, 
that  the  practice  obtained  of  reading  the  book  of 
Esther  on  the  feast  of  Purim  in  a  Spanish  transla- 
tion, for  the  benefit  of  the  women.  This  practice 
had  been  introduced  into  other  Spanish  communi- 
ties, and  was  not  only  applauded  by  all  men  of  com- 
mon sense,  but  had  even  been  authorized  by  a  few 
rabbis,  who  considered  it  unobjectionable  from  a 
Talmudical  point  of  view.  Ben  Sheshet  raised  a 
cry  of  alarm,  as  if  Judaism  had  been  threatened 
with  ruin.  He  called  to  his  assistance  the  authority 
of  his  teacher,  Nissim  Gerundi,  and  together  they 
opposed  the  excellent  custom  with  sophistical  argu- 
ment. They  appear  to  have  been  successful  in 
abolishing  it. 

Still  more  characteristic  of  Isaac  ben  Sheshet  is 
his  quarrel  with  Chayim  ben  Gallipapa,  a  rabbi, 
stricken  in  years,  whose  opinions  differed  from  those 
of  the  rabbi  of  Saragossa.  This  man  (born  13 10, 
died  1380),  rabbi  of  Huesca  and  Pampeluna,  was  a 
singular  figure  in  the  Middle  Ages,  whom  it  is  dif- 
ficult to  classify.  Whilst  the  rabbis  of  the  time, 
particularly  since  the  rise  of  the  Asheride  teaching, 
exceeded  all  bounds  in  the  imposition  of  burden- 
some observances,  and  always,  in  cases  of  doubt, 
decided  in  favor  of  their  most  rigorous  fulfillment, 
Gallipapa  took  the  opposite  view,  and  maintained 
that  the  aim  of  all  Talmudical  exegesis  should  be  to 
disencumber  life.  The  times,  he  considered,  had 
improved,  and  neither  the  ignorance  of  the  people 
nor  the  fear  of  defection  was  so  great  as  to  warrant 
such  severity.     This  principle  was  no  mere  theory 



with  Gallipapa,  for  he  followed  it  practically.  The 
freedom  he  suggested  concerned  matters  of  com- 
parative insignificance,  but  at  that  time  every  trifle 
was  regarded  as  important.  On  certain  dogmas, 
also,  Gallipapa  held  independent  views.  The  Mes- 
sianic belief  which,  since  the  time  of  Maimonides, 
had  become  an  article  of  faith,  to  deny  which  was 
heresy,  he  boldly  set  aside.  Gallipapa  considered 
that  the  prophecies,  in  Isaiah  and  Daniel,  of  the 
great  prosperity  of  Israel  in  the  future,  had  been 
fulfilled  in  the  days  of  the  Maccabees,  and  wrote  a 
work  on  the  subject.  Against  this  hardy  innovator, 
a  storm  naturally  arose.  A  neighboring  rabbi, 
Chasdai  ben  Solomon,  of  Tudela,  a  man  of  not  over- 
fine  sensibilities,  denounced  him  to  Isaac  ben  She- 
shet,  and  the  latter  lectured  the  venerable  Gallipapa, 
who  had  sent  disciples  into  the  world,  as  if  he  had 
been  a  mere  schoolboy.  He  adjured  Chayim  Galli- 
papa to  avoid  scandal  and  give  no  opportunity  for 
schism  amongst  his  brethren.  The  modest  attempt 
at  reform  went  no  further. 

This  severe  tendency  in  matters  of  religion  was 
the  natural  outcome  of  the  prevailing  spiritual  needs; 
and  it  must  be  confessed  that  the  more  rigorous,  the 
better  it  was  adapted  to  them.  Isaac  ben  Sheshet 
and  his  friend  Chasdai  Crescas,  who,  although  no 
enemy  of  secular  learning,  entertained  the  same 
view  as  his  colleague,  and  defended  his  orthodoxy 
on  philosophic  grounds,  were  considered,  after  the 
death  of  Nissim  Gerundi,  the  most  eminent  rab- 
binical authorities  of  their  day,  not  in  Spain  only. 
From  far  and  near,  inquiries  were  addressed  to 
them,  principally  to  Isaac  ben  Sheshet,  but  also  to 
Chasdai  Crescas.  The  proudest  rabbis  and  the 
largest  communities  invoked  their  counsel,  and 
were  content  to  abide  by  their  decisions.  The 
court  of  Aragon  also  regarded  them  as  the  leaders 
of  the  Jewish  communities,  but  this  operated  to 
their  disadvantage.     In  consequence  of  the  denun- 

150  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

ciation  of  some  malevolent  person,  the  ground  of 
which  is  unknown,  the  king,  Don  Pedro  IV,  ordered 
Chasdai  Crescas,  Isaac  ben  Sheshet,  his  brother, 
Crescas  Barfat,  the  aged  Nissim  Gerundi  of  Barce- 
lona, and  two  others,  to  be  thrown  into  prison. 
After  a  long  time,  they  were  released  on  bail.  We 
may  believe  Isaac  ben  Sheshet,  when  he  assures  us 
that  he  and  his  fellow-prisoners  were  all  innocent 
of  the  offense  or  crime  laid  to  their  charge.  Their 
innocence  must  have  come  to  light,  for  they  after- 
wards remained  unmolested. 

The  authority  of  Chasdai  Crescas  and  Isaac^ben 
Sheshet  was  appealed  to  by  the  French  communities 
to  settle  an  important  point  in  a  dispute  about  the 
chief  rabbinate  of  France.  A  change,  largely  the 
outcome  of  the  political  condition  of  the  country, 
had  come  over  the  circumstances  of  these  commu- 
nities. Manessier  de  Vesoul,  the  zealous  defender 
and  protector  of  his  co-religionists,  was  dead  (about 
1375 — 1378).  Of  his  four  sons — Solomon,  Joseph, 
Abraham,  and  Haquinet — the  eldest  succeeded  to 
his  father's  post  of  receiver  general  of  the  Jew  taxes 
and  political  representative  of  the  French  Jews,  and 
the  second  became  a  convert  to  Christianity.  Solo- 
mon and  his  brothers  enjoyed  the  same  esteem  at 
the  royal  court  as  their  father.  They  were  exempted 
from  wearing  the  humiliating  Jew  badge,  and  they 
diligently  cared  for  the  interests  of  their  brethren. 
Among  Jews,  however,  they  do  not  seem  to  have 
obtained  the  consideration  that  their  father  had  en- 
joyed. On  the  death  of  the  king,  Charles  V,  their 
importance  ceased  altogether.  The  regent  Louis, 
Duke  of  Anjou,  confirmed,  for  a  consideration,  the 
privileges  acquired  by  the  French  Jews  (14th  October, 
1380),  and  prolonged  their  term  of  sufferance  in  the 
land  by  another  five  years.  His  protection,  however, 
did  not  reach  far,  or  rather  it  involved  the  Jews  in 
his  own  unpopularity.  The  impoverished  popula- 
tion of  Paris,  driven  to  despair  by  burdensome  taxa- 

CH.  V.  RIOT  IN   PARIS.  151 

tion,  loudly  and  stormily  demanded  redress  of  the 
young  king  and  the  regent.     Egged  on  by  a  nobility 
involved  in  debt,  they  included  the  Jews  in  their  out- 
cry, and  demanded  that  the  king  should  expel  from 
the    country  "these    shameful    usurers   who    have 
ruined  whole  families."     The  people  did  not  stop 
at  words;    at  the  instigation  of  the   nobles,    they 
attacked  the  houses  of  the  Jews  (November  i6th, 
1380),  robbed  the  exchequer  of  the  receiver  general 
(of  the  Vesoul  family),  pillaged  their  dwelling-houses, 
destroyed  the  bonds  of  the  debtors,  appropriated 
the  accumulated  pledges,  murdered  a  few  Jews,  and 
tore  children  from  the  arms  of  fleeing  and  weeping 
Jewish  mothers  to  baptize  them  forthwith.     A  large 
number  of  Jews  saved  themselves  by  flight  to  the 
fort  Chatelet.     The  regent  was  much  irritated  by 
this  violent  outbreak,  but  was  unable  to  punish  the 
offenders  at  once  on  account  of  the  excited  state  of 
the   people.      He    ordered   that   the   Jews   be    re- 
instated in  their  homes,  and  the  plunder  restored  to 
them.     Few  complied  with  the  order.     The  prevot 
of  Paris,   Hugues  Aubriot — a  man  of  considerable 
energy,  who  had  beautified  and  enlarged  the  French 
capital — also    interested  himself  in    the  Jews.      In 
particular,  he  brought  about  the  restitution  of  the 
stolen   and   baptized   children.      For   this    he   was 
violently  attacked   by  men  whose  learning  should 
have  taught  them  better.     Aubriot,  by  his  orderly 
administration,  had  made  enemies  of  the  university 
professors  and  students,  who  denounced  as  criminal 
his  interference  for   the  benefit  of  the  Jews.     He 
was  accused   before  the  bishop  of  Paris  of  having 
held  intercourse  with  Jewish  women,  and  even  of 
being  a  secret  adherent  of  Judaism.     He  was  found 
guilty  of  heresy  and  infidelity,  and  made  to  pay  with 
imprisonment  for  his  humane  conduct  towards  the 
Jews.     Not  only  in  Paris,  but  also  in  other  towns 
where  the  people  rose  against  heavy  taxation,  Jews 
fell  victims  to  the  popular  excitement.    Four  months 

152  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

later,  similar  bloody  scenes  were  enacted  in  Paris 
and  the  provinces  when  the  rising  of  the  Maillotins 
(so  called  from  the  mallets  with  which  the  insurgents 
were  armed)  took  place.  For  three  or  four  days 
in  succession  Jews  were  again  plundered,  ill-treated, 
and  murdered  (March  ist,  1381).  The  king,  Charles 
VII,  or  rather  the  regent,  attempted  to  protect  the 
Jews  and  to  obtain  some  indemnification  of  their 
losses.  They  were,  however,  unable  to  recover 
from  the  blow  they  had  received.  In  these  tumults 
the  sons  of  Manessier  de  Vesoul  appear  either  to 
have  lost  their  lives,  or,  at  any  rate,  their  position  of 

This  change  in  the  fortunes  of  the  French  Jews 
brought  in  its  train  a  violent  communal  dispute,  the 
excitement  of  which  extended  far  and  wide.  The 
chief  rabbi,  Matathiah  Provenci,  had  been  gathered 
to  his  fathers.  The  communities  had  elected  his 
eldest  son,  Jochanan,  in  his  place,  and  the  king  had 
confirmed  their  choice.  He  had  been  in  office  five 
years,  and  was  projecting  the  establishment  of  an 
academy,  when  a  former  pupil  of  his  father,  one 
Isaiah  ben  Abba-Mari,  arrived  in  France  from  Savoy 
■with  the  authorization  of  the  German  chief  rabbi, 
Meir  ben  Baruch  Halevi^  granting  to  him  alone  the 
right  to  maintain  an  academy  and  ordain  pupils  as 
rabbis.  Whoever  exercised  rabbinical  functions 
without  his  authority  and,  especially,  meddled  with 
marriages  and  divorces,  was  threatened  with  excom- 
munication. All  unauthorized  documents  were  de- 
clared null  and  void.  By  virtue  of  his  authority, 
and  in  consequence  of  Jochanan's  refusal  to  sub- 
ordinate himself  to  him,  Isaiah  relieved  him  of  his 
office  (about  1 380 — 1 390).  The  Vesoul  family  being 
extinct  or  having  lost  prestige,  Jochanan  found  him- 
self without  influential  support.  Many  of  the  French 
Jews,  however,  were  extremely  wroth  at  this  violent, 
imperious  behavior  of  the  immigrant  rabbi.  They 
condemned  the  presumptuousness  of  the  German 


rabbi,  Meir  Halevi,  in  treating  France  as  though  it 
were  a  German  province,  and  protested  against  his 
dictating  laws  to  the  French  communities,  as  it  had 
always  been  the  custom  to  regard  each  community, 
and  certainly  the  Jews  of  each  country,  as  independ- 
ent. The  result  was  a  storm  of  indignation,  which 
increased  considerably  when  Isaiah  proceeded  to 
appoint  his  own  relatives  to  the  various  rabbinates. 
It  being  impossible  to  settle  the  dispute  by  an  appeal 
to  the  home-authorities,  Jochanan  turned  with  his 
grievance  to  the  two  foremost  representatives  of 
Spanish  Judaism,  Chasdai  Crescas  and  Isaac  ben 
Sheshet.  Both  these  "Catalonian  grandees,"  as 
they  were  called,  pronounced  in  favor  of  Jochanan. 
This  decision,  however,  was  not  destined  to  bring 
about  lasting  peace,  for  the  days  of  the  Jews  in 
France  were  numbered. 

The  storm  on  this  occasion  arose  in  Spain,  and 
convulsed  for  a  time  the  entire  Jewish  race.  The 
golden  age  of  the  Spanish  Jews  had  passed  away ; 
still  they  were  more  firmly  established  in  the  Penin- 
sula than  in  any  other  country.  It  required  a  series 
of  violent  shocks,  extending  over  an  entire  century, 
to  completely  uproot  them,  whilst  in  France  they 
were  swept  away  by  a  breath,  like  twigs  planted  in 
quicksand.  For  the  sanguinary  drama  which  com- 
menced towards  the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century, 
and  ended  in  the  latter  part  of  the  fifteenth,  the 
Spanish  Jews  were  themselves  largely  to  blame.  It 
is  true  that  the  many  had  to  suffer  for  the  few,  for 
when  the  enemies  of  the  Jews  complained  of  their 
obsequious  attendance  at  court  and  on  the  grandees, 
of  their  wealth  accumulated  by  usury,  and  their 
flaunting  in  silks  and  satins,  blame  was  due  only  to 
a  few  of  the  most  prominent,  for  whose  follies  and 
extravagances  the  masses  were  not  responsible. 
Indeed,  there  were  Jews  who  complained  that  their 
moral  sense  was  deeply  wounded  by  the  selfishness 
and  covetousness  of  their  wealthy  brethren.     "  For 

154  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

these  troubles,"  says  one,  "the  titled  and  wealthy 
Jews  are  greatly  to  be  held  responsible;  their  only 
consideration  is  for  their  position  and  money,  whilst 
for  their  God  they  have  no  regard."  In  fact,  the 
union  that  had  previously  been  the  chief  source  of 
strength  among  the  Spanish  Jews,  was  broken  up. 
Jealousy  and  envy  among  the  Jewish  grandees  had 
undermined  fraternal  feeling,  which  formerly  had 
induced  each  to  merge  his  interests  in  those  of  the 
community  at  large,  and  all  to  combine  for  the 
defense  of  each.  Generosity  and  nobility  of  mind, 
once  the  brilliant  qualities  of  the  Spanish  Jews,  had 
now  become  almost  extinct.  A  contemporary  writer 
pictures  their  degeneracy  in  darkest  hues,  and  if 
only  one  half  of  what  he  tells  us  is  true,  their  decline 
must  have  been  grave  indeed. 

"The  majority  of  wealthy  Jews,"  says  Solomon 
Alami  in  his  "Mirror  of  Morals,"  or  "Letter  of 
Warning,"  "who  are  admitted  to  royal  courts,  and 
to  whom  the  keys  of  public  exchequers  are  con- 
fided, pride  themselves  on  their  dignities  and  wealth, 
but  give  no  thought  to  the  poor.  They  build  them- 
selves palaces,  drive  about  in  splendid  equipages, 
or  ride  on  richly  caparisoned  mules,  wear  magni- 
ficent apparel,  and  deck  their  wives  and  daughters 
like  princesses  with  gold,- pearls,  and  precious  stones. 
They  are  indifferent  to  their  religion,  disdain 
modesty,  hate  manual  labor,  and  live  in  idleness. 
The  wealthy  love  dancing  and  gaming,  dress  in  the 
national  costume,  and  go  about  with  sleek  beards. 
They  fill  themselves  with  dainties,  whilst  scholars 
starve  on  bread  and  water.  Hence,  the  rabbis  are 
despised,  for  all  classes  prefer  to  have  their  sons 
taught  the  lowest  of  handicrafts  to  bringing  them 
up  to  the  study  of  the  Law.  At  sermon  time,  the 
great  resign  themselves  to  sweet  slumber,  or  talk 
with  one  another,  and  the  preacher  is  frequently 
disturbed  by  men  and  women  at  the  back  of  the 
synagogue.     On  the  other  hand,  how  devout  are 

CH.  V.  INFORMERS.  155 

the  Christians  in  their  houses  of  worship  !  In  every 
town  the  noble  live  at  variance  with  one  another, 
and  stir  up  discord  on  the  most  trivial  questions. 
Still  worse  is  the  jealousy  with  which  they  regard 
each  other;  they  slander  one  another  before  the 
king  and  the  princes." 

It  is  certainly  true  that  at  this  period  secret  de- 
nunciations, once  almost  unknown  among  the  Jews, 
were  exceedingly  rife,  even  rabbis  being  occasionally 
the  victims.  As  the  aged  Nissim  Gerundi,  Isaac  ben 
Sheshet,  Chasdai  Crescas,  and  their  friends  were 
victimized  by  the  conspiracy  of  some  miserable 
calumniator,  so  an  attempt  was  made  to  ruin  the 
rabbi  of  Alkolea  de  Cinca,  En-Zag  Vidal  de  Tolosa, 
by  representations  to  the  queen  of  Aragon. 

The  rabbis,  who,  with  one  or  two  assessors,  con- 
stituted courts  of  justice  for  criminal  cases,  dealt 
severely  with  such  traitors,  and  even  sentenced 
them  to  death.  In  the  communities  of  Castile,  Ara- 
gon, Valencia,  and  Catalonia,  the  privilege  of  pass- 
ing death-sentences  was  of  great  antiquity.  The 
Jewish  courts  required  for  the  execution  of  such 
sentences  special  sanction  from  the  king  in  a  sealed 
letter  (Albala,  Chotham);  but,  if  necessary,  this  could 
be  obtained  through  the  medium  of  Jewish  courtiers, 
or  by  bribery.  Such  proceedings,  however,  only 
increased  the  evil  they  were  designed  to  cure.  The 
accused  were  made  short  work  of  without  exhaust- 
ive inquiry,  or  sufficient  testimony,  and  this  naturally 
infuriated  their  relatives  and  friends.  It  did  not  un- 
frequently  occur  that  utterances  were  construed  as 
treasonable  which  had  no  such  character.  The  ill- 
advised  action  of  the  Jewish  court  of  Seville  (or 
Burgos)  on  an  unfounded  charge  of  disloyalty  to 
the  community  preferred  against  an  eminent  and 
beloved  co-religionist  was,  if  not  the  actual  cause, 
at  any  rate  the  occasion  of  the  first  widespread  and 
sanguinary  persecution  of  the  Jews  in  Spain,  the 
final  result  being  the  total  expulsion  of  the  Jews 
from  the  Peninsula. 

1 56  HISTORY  OP  THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

Joseph  Pichon,  of  Seville,  high  in  favor  with  the 
king  of  Castile,  Don  Henry  II,  whose  receiver 
general  of  taxes  he  had  been,  was  accused  of  em- 
bezzlement by  some  jealous  Jewish  courtiers.  He 
was  imprisoned  by  the  king,  condemned  to  pay  a 
fine  of  40,000  doubloons,  and  then  set  free.  He 
afterwards  retrieved  his  reputation,  and  became 
extraordinarily  popular  among  the  Christian  popula- 
tion of  Seville.  To  avenge  his  wrongs,  or  possibly 
with  a  view  to  his  own  vindication,  he  had  entangled 
his  enemies  in  a  serious  accusation,  when  Don  Henry 
died.  His  son,  Don  Juan  I,  was  crowned  at  Burgos, 
the  capital  of  Old  Castile  (1379).  During  the 
coronation  festivities,  a  Jewish  court  of  justice  (at 
Burgos  or  Seville)  condemned  Pichon  as  an  enemy 
to  the  community  and  a  traitor  (Malshim,  Malsin), 
without  affording  him  an  opportunity  of  being  heard 
in  defense.  Some  Jews,  having  access  to  the  court, 
asked  permission  of  the  young  king  to  execute  a 
dangerous  member  of  their  own  body  without  men- 
tioning his  name.  Confidants  of  the  king  are  said 
to  have  been  bribed  to  obtain  the  royal  signature  to 
this  decree.  Provided  with  the  king's  warrant  and 
the  death  sentence  of  the  rabbinical  college,  Pichon's 
enemies  repaired  to  the  chief  of  police  (Alguacil), 
Fernan  Martin,  and  obtained  his  assistance  at  the 
execution.  Early  on  the  morning  of  the  2 1  st  August, 
two  or  three  Jews,  together  with  Martin,  entered 
Pichon's  house  whilst  he  was  yet  asleep,  and  awoke 
him  under  the  pretext  that  his  mules  were  to  be 
seized  for  debt.  As  soon  as  he  appeared  at  the 
door  of  his  dwelling,  he  was  arrested  by  the  Jews 
intrusted  with  the  carrying  out  of  the  sentence,  and, 
without  a  word,  beheaded. 

Whether  Pichon  had  deserved  death,  even  accord- 
ing to  rabbinical  law,  or  whether  he  fell  a  victim  to 
the  intrigues  of  his  enemies,  is  not  known.  It  is 
not  difficult  to  understand  that  so  cruel  an  act  should 
have  stirred  up  widespread  indignation.    The  anger 


of  the  young  king  knew  no  bounds  when  he  learnt 
that  his  coronation  festivities  had  been  stained  with 
the  murder  of  one  who  had  rendered  his  father  sub- 
stantial services,  and  that  his  own  sanction  had  been 
surreptitiously  obtained.  He  immediately  ordered 
the  execution  of  the  Jews  who  had  carried  out  the 
sentence,  and  of  a  Jewish  judge  of  Burgos.  Even 
the  chief  of  police,  Fernan  Martin,  was  ordered  to 
be  put  to  death  for  the  assistance  he  had  given ; 
but  at  the  intercession  of  some  nobles,  his  life  was 
spared,  and  his  punishment  commuted  to  the  chop- 
ping off  of  one  hand.  This  incident  had  other 
grave  consequences.  The  king  at  once  deprived 
the  rabbis  and  Jewish  courts  of  justice  of  jurisdic- 
tion in  criminal  cases,  on  the  ground  of  their  abuse 
of  the  privilege.  At  the  first  meeting  of  the  cortes 
at  Soria  (1380),  he  made  this  restriction  a  permanent 
statute.  By  its  terms  the  rabbis  and  communal 
leaders  were  thenceforth  prohibited  from  decreeing 
punishments  of  death,  dismemberment,  or  exile,  and 
in  criminal  cases  were  to  choose  Christian  judges. 
One  of  the  reasons  assigned  was  that,  according  to 
the  prophets,  the  Jews  were  to  be  deprived  of  all 
power  and  freedom  after  the  advent  of  Jesus.  The 
still  exasperated  king  then  arraigned  the  Jews  on 
other  charges.  He  accused  them  particularly  of 
cursing  Christians  and  the  Christian  church  in  their 
prayers,  and  with  receiving  Mahometans,  Tartars, 
and  other  foreign  persons  into  the  pale  of  Judaism, 
and  having  them  circumcised.  These  alleged  prac- 
tices were  forbidden  under  heavy  penalties.  The 
feeling  against  the  Jews  was  not  limited  to  the  king 
and  the  court  circle.  The  entire  population  of 
Castile  was  roused  by  the  apparently  unjust  execu- 
tion of  Joseph  Pichon,  and  by  the  circumstance  that 
his  death  was  not  the  work  of  irresponsible  indi- 
viduals, but  of  the  foremost  leaders  of  the  Jewish 
community.  In  Seville,  where  Pichon  had  been 
very  popular,  the  fury  against  the  Jews  rose  to  such 

158  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

a  height  that,  had  the  opportunity  presented  itself, 
summary  vengeance  would  have  been  taken. 

Accusations  against  the  Jews  and  petitions  for  the 
restriction  of  their  liberties  became  the  order  of  the 
day  at  the  meetings  of  the  cortes,  as  formerly  at  the 
councils  of  the  Visigothic  kings.  The  infuriated 
Don  Juan  acquiesced  in  this  agitation,  in  so  far  as 
it  did  not  tend  to  the  detriment  of  the  royal  finances. 
At  the  cortes  of  Valladolid  (1385),  he  granted  the 
petition  for  the  legalization  of  the  canonical  restric- 
tions, presented  by  the  clergy,  and  accordingly  pro- 
hibited the  living  together  of  Jews  and  Christians, 
and  the  suckling  of  Jewish  infants  by  Christian 
nurses,  under  pain  of  public  whipping.  He  also 
consented  to  the  passing  of  a  law  excluding  Jews 
(and  Mahometans)  from  the  post  of  treasurer  to  the 
king,  queen,  or  any  of  the  royal  family. 

Curiously,  it  was  the  quarrel  over  the  chief  rabbi- 
nate of  Portugal  that  snatched  the  crown  of  that 
country,  at  the  moment  when  it  was  within  his  grasp, 
from  this  monarch,  who  cannot  be  said  to  have  been 
wholly  hostile  to  the  Jews.  By  a  treaty  with  King 
Ferdinand  of  Portugal,  it  had  been  agreed  that, 
male  heirs  to  the  crown  failing,  he,  or  rather  his 
second  wife,  the  Portuguese  Infanta  Beatrice 
(Brites),  should  have  the  first  right  to  the  succes- 
sion. In  Portugal  the  Jews  had  always  been  toler- 
ated, and,  up  to  the  time  of  their  expulsion  from  the 
country,  suffered  no  persecution.  During  the  reign 
of  King  Ferdinand  (1367 — 1383),  their  position  was 
exceptionally  happy.  Since  the  thirteenth  century 
(1274),  the  government  of  the  community  had  been 
more  completely  in  its  own  hands  than  in  any  other 
European  country.  Some  of  their  peculiar  institu- 
tions dated  even  further  back.  At  the  head  of  the 
Portuguese  Jews  was  a  chief  rabbi  (Ar-Rabbi  Mor), 
possessing  almost  princely  privileges.  On  account 
of  the  importance  of  the  office  he  was  always 
appointed  by  the  king,  who  conferred  it  as  a  reward 

CH.  V.  JEWS   IN   PORTUGAL.  159 

for  services  rendered  to  the  crown,  or  to  add  to  the 
dignity  of  some  particular  favorite.  The  chief  rabbi 
used  a  special  signet,  administered  justice  in  all  its 
branches,  and  issued  decrees  under  his  own  sign- 
manual  with  the  addendum  :  "By  the  grace  of  my 
lord,  the  king,  Ar-Rabbi  Mor  of  the  communities  of 
Portugal  and  Algarve."  It  was  his  duty  to  make  an 
annual  circuit  of  all  the  Portuguese  communities,  to 
investigate  their  affairs,  invite  individuals  to  lay 
before  him  their  grievances,  even  against  the  rabbis, 
and  remedy  abuses  wherever  they  existed.  On 
these  journeys  he  was  accompanied  by  a  Jewish 
judge  (Ouvidor),  a  chancellor  (Chanceller)  with  his 
staff,  a  secretary  (Escrivao),  and  a  sheriff  (Porteiro 
jurado),  to  carry  out  the  sentences  of  his  court. 
The  chief  rabbi  or  Ar-Rabbi  Mor,  appointed  in  each 
of  the  seven  provinces  of  the  kingdom  provincial 
rabbis  (Ouvidores)  subject  to  him.  These  rabbis 
were  established  in  the  seven  principal  provincial 
Jewish  centers,  Santarem,  Vizeu,  Cavilhao,  Porto, 
Torre  de  Montcorvo,  Evora  and  Faro.  They  gov- 
erned the  provincial  communities,  and  were  the 
judges  of  appeal  for  their  several  districts.  The 
local  rabbis  were  elected  by  the  general  body  of 
contributing  members  of  the  community  ;  but  the 
confirmation  of  their  election  and  their  investiture 
proceeded  from  the  chief  rabbi,  under  a  special  deed 
issued  in  the  name  of  the  king.  The  judicial  au- 
thority of  the  rabbis  extended  to  criminal  cases, 
and  they  retained  this  privilege  much  longer  than 
their  Spanish  brethren.  Public  documents  had  to  be 
written  in  the  vernacular.  The  Jewish  form  of  oath 
was  very  simple,  even  in  litigation  with  Christians ; 
it  required  nothing  but  the  presence  of  a  rabbi  and 
the  holding  up  of  the  Torah. 

The  king,  Don  Ferdinand,  had  two  Jewish  favor- 
ites, who  supervised  his  monetary  affairs:  Don 
Judah,  his  chief  treasurer  (Tesoreiro  Mor),  and  Don 
David  Negro,  of  the  highly-respected  Ibn-Yachya 

l6o  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

family,  his  confidant  and  counselor  (Almoxarif). 
When  this  frivolous  and  prodigal  monarch  died,  and 
the  regency  was  undertaken  by  the  queen,  Leonora 
— a  princess  whose  beauty  rendered  her  irresistible, 
but  who  was  hated  for  her  faithlessness  and  feared  for 
her  vindictiveness  and  craft — the  municipal  authori- 
ties of  Lisbon  approached  her  with  an  urgent  prayer 
for  the  abolition  of  sundry  unpopular  measures  of  the 
late  king.  Among  other  things  they  asked  that 
Jews  and  Moors  should  no  longer  be  allowed  to  hold 
public  offices.  Leonora  craftily  replied  that  during 
the  Hfetime  of  the  king  she  had  exerted  herself  to 
procure  the  exclusion  of  Jews  from  public  offices, 
but  her  representations  had  always  been  unheeded. 
Immediately  after  the  king's  death  she  had  removed 
Judah  and  David  Negro  from  the  public  service,  and 
dismissed  all  the  Jewish  receivers  of  taxes.  She 
nevertheless  retained  Judah  in  her  immediate  circle, 
anticipating  that,  on  account  of  his  wealth  and  ex- 
perience, he  might  prove  of  use  to  her.  Leonora's 
scheme  to  obtain  absolute  authority  and  share  the 
government  with  her  paramour  was  frustrated  by 
the  still  craftier  bastard  Infante  Don  Joao,  Grand 
Master  of  Avis.  In  the  art  of  winning  public  favor 
and  turning  it  to  account,  Don  Joao  was  a  master, 
and  he  soon  brought  things  to  such  a  pass  that  the 
queen  regent  was  forced  to  leave  the  capital.  Burn- 
ing for  revenge,  Leonora  invoked  the  aid  of  her 
son-in-law.  King  Don  Juan  of  Castile,  with  the 
result  that  a  sanguinary  civil  war  was  commenced. 
In  opposition  to  the  aristocratic  faction,  supporting 
the  queen  regent  and  the  Castilians,  there  arose  a 
popular  party,  which  enthusiastically  espoused  the 
cause  of  Don  Joao  of  Avis.  Leonora  was  obliged 
to  fly  before  the  hatred  of  her  people  and  take 
refuge  in  Santarem.  Among  her  escort  were  the 
two  Jewish  grandees,  Judah  and  David  Negro,  who 
had  escaped  from  Lisbon  in  disguise.  Hither  came 
King  Juan  of  Castile ;   and  Leonora,  in  order  to 


be  enabled  to  take  full  vengeance  on  her  enemies, 
renounced  the  regency  in  his  favor,  and  placed  at 
his  disposal  all  her  adherents,  comprising  the  entire 
Portuguese  nobility,  together  with  a  large  number 
of  fortresses.  The  idea  of  the  Castilian  king  in 
undertaking  this  enterprise  was  to  unite  the  crowns 
of  Portugal  and  Castile;  but  for  the  realization  of 
this  project  a  thorough  understanding  between 
Leonora  and  her  son-in-law  and  her  ungrudging 
co-operation  were  indispensable.  This  important 
harmony  was  disturbed  by  a  question  as  to  the 
appointment  of  a  chief  rabbi,  and  owing  to  this  dis- 
pute their  agreement  was  transformed  into  bitter 
and  disastrous  enmity. 

The  rabbinate  of  Castile  became  vacant  in  1384. 
Leonora,  desiring  to  obtain  the  appointment  for  her 
favorite  Judah,  made  application  to  the  king  on  his 
behalf.  At  the  instance  of  his  wife  Beatrice,  he  con- 
ferred the  dignity  upon  David  Negro.  Leonora's 
anger  at  this  rebuff  was  expressed  with  vehemence. 
She  is  reported  to  have  said  to  her  circle  of  adher- 
ents :  "  If  the  king  refuses  so  trivial  a  favor,  the  first 
I  have  asked  of  him,  to  me,  a  woman,  a  queen,  a 
mother,  one  who  has  done  so  much  for  him,  what 
have  I  and  what  have  you  to  expect  ?  Even  my 
enemy,  the  Grand  Master  of  Avis,  would  not  have 
treated  me  thus.  You  will  do  better  to  go  over  to 
him,  your  legitimate  master."  Leonora  transferred 
to  her  son-in-law,  King  Juan,  all  the  hatred  with 
which  she  had  formerly  regarded  the  Grand  Master 
of  Avis.  She  organized  a  conspiracy  to  murder 
him,  the  details  of  which  she  confided  to  the  former 
treasurer  Judah.  The  plot  was,  however,  discov- 
ered by  the  chief  rabbi  elect,  David  Negro,  who 
saved  the  king's  life.  Don  Juan  immediately  caused 
the  queen  dowager  to  be  arrested  and  thrown  into 
prison.  Judah  also  was  imprisoned,  and  ordered  to 
be  executed,  but  at  the  energetic  intercession  of  his 
rival,   David    Negro,   his   life   was    spared.      This 

1 62  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

quarrel  with  and  imprisonment  of  his  mother-in-law 
cost  Don  Juan  all  support  in  Portugal.  Thenceforth 
he  encountered  resistance  on  every  side,  and  was 
obliged  to  resort  to  forcible  measures  for  the  subju- 
gation of  the  country.  His  plans,  however,  all 
failed,  and  in  the  end  he  found  himself  compelled 
to  renounce  his  hope  of  a  union  of  the  two  lands. 

A  few  rabbis  intrigued  to  obtain  rabbinical  office, 
and  involved  their  several  communities  in  much  un- 
seemly strife,  as,  for  example,  David  Negro  and 
Judah,  Isaiah  ben  Abba-Mari  and  Jochanan  in 
France,  Solomon  Zarfati  and  En-Vidal  Ephraim 
Gerundi  in  the  Island  of  Majorca,  and  Chasdai  ben 
Solomon  and  Amram  Efrati  in  Valencia,  but  it  m.ust 
be  acknowledged  that  such  incidents  were  of  rare 
occurrence.  To  the  majority,  the  rabbinate  was  as 
a  holy  priesthood,  the  duties  of  which  they  sought 
to  discharge  in  all  purity  of  heart  and  deed,  with 
devotion  and  self-denial.  They  were  generally  ex- 
amples to  their  communities,  not  only  in  learning 
and  piety,  but  in  high-mindedness,  conscientious- 
ness, and  the  purity  of  their  morals.  Even  the  less 
worthy  cannot  be  charged  with  anything  more  seri- 
ous than  a  desire  for  place,  and  a  certain  degree  of 
irascibility.  It  would  be  a  gross  libel  on  their 
memory  to  compare  them  with  the  servants  of  the 
church  during  the  same  period.  At  no  time  in  its 
history  had  Christianity  more  reason  to  be  ashamed 
of  its  representatives  than  during  the  fourteenth  and 
the  succeeding  century.  Since  the  papacy  had  es- 
tablished itself  at  Avignon,  it  had  become  a  perfect 
hot-bed  of  vice,  the  contagion  of  which  spread  over 
the  clergy  down  to  the  lowliest  friar.  Besides,  there 
arose  passionate  strife  between  pope  and  anti-pope, 
between  one  college  of  cardinals  and  another,  di- 
viding the  whole  of  Christendom  into  two  huge, 
bitterly  hostile  camps.  It  was  only  natural  that  the 
clergy  should  infect  the  lay  world  with  their  im- 
measurable dissoluteness  and  vice,  Yet  these  degen- 


erate,  inhuman  and  degraded  Christian  communities 
presumed  to  treat  the  modest,  virtuous,  pious  Jews 
as  outcasts  and  accursed  of  God.  Although  supe- 
rior in  everything  save  wickedness  and  the  virtues  of 
a  robber  chivalry,  they  were  denied  the  commonest 
rights  of  man.  They  were  baited  and  slaughtered 
like  beasts  of  the  field.  In  Nordlingen  the  entire 
Jewish  community,  including  women  and  children, 
was  murdered  (1384).  All  over  Suabia  they  were 
persecuted,  and  in  Augsburg  they  were  imprisoned 
until  a  ransom  of  20,000  florins  was  paid.  A  char- 
acteristic illustration  is  furnished  by  the  following 
occurrence  :  The  rabbis  and  communal  leaders  of 
central  Germany  had  determined  to  hold  a  synod  at 
Weissenfels,  in  Saxony,  for  the  purpose  of  deliber- 
ating upon  certain  religious  questions,  and  adopting 
resolutions  of  public  utility  (1386).  They  had  pro- 
vided themselves  with  safe-conduct  passes  from  the 
Saxon  princes,  it  being  unsafe  for  Christians  to 
travel  on  the  public  highroads,  and,  of  course,  much 
more  so  for  Jews.  Nevertheless,  a  party  of  German 
robber-nobles,  anticipating  rich  booty,  waylaid  the 
travelers  on  their  return  journey,  and,  having  plun- 
dered and  ill-used  them,  threw  them  into  prison,  and 
liberated  them  only  on  the  payment  of  a  ransom  of 
5,000  groschen.  The  rabbis  and  their  companions 
complained  to  the  princes  of  this  attack,  and  the 
latter,  indignant  at  the  disrespect  with  which  their 
authority  had  been  treated,  summoned  the  noble 
marauders  to  answer  the  charges  urged  against 
them.  The  line  of  defense  adopted  by  the  spokes- 
man of  the  accused  was  that  they  had  no  idea  of 
disregarding  the  safe-conduct  passes  of  the  princes, 
but  that  they  held  the  opinion  that  the  Jews,  the 
enemies  of  the  church,  did  not  deserve  the  protection 
of  Christian  authorities.  The  speaker  continued 
that,  for  his  own  part,  wherever  he  met  the  enemies 
of  Christ,  he  would  give  them  no  quarter.  A  de- 
fense of  this  kind  could  not  fail  to  obtain  applause. 

164  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

Its  Spirit  was  that  of  the  majority  of  the  Christians 
of  that  day.  The  accused  were  absolved  from 
blame,  and  the  Jews  dismissed  without  redress, 
*'  for  the  defense  captivated  the  princes." 

The  art  of  poetry,  which  should  beautify  life,  be- 
gan to  work  like  poison  on  the  moral  atmosphere 
of  the  Jews.  For  some  centuries  past  romantic 
works  had  variously  portrayed  the  character  of  a 
creditor,  who,  as  equivalent  for  a  debt,  claimed  a 
certain  portion  cut  from  the  body  of  his  creditor, 
either  a  liege  lord  from  his  vassal,  or  a  nobleman 
from  a  burgher.  At  first  this  was  harmless  fiction, 
but  afterwards  it  was  turned  against  the  Jews,  as 
though  only  a  Jewish  Shylock  could  be  capable  of 
such  hardness  of  heart  as  to  insist  on  the  payment 
of  a  pound  of  flesh  from  a  Christian.  Thus  cannibal 
hatred  of  Christians  was  foisted  on  the  Jews,  and 
received  credence.  Romances  took  up  the  theme, 
and  made  it  popular. 

The  depraved,  dissolute  clergy — a  class  of  men 
who,  in  an  age  of  public  decency,  would  have  been 
objects  of  universal  contempt,  or  might  have  earned 
the  corrections  of  a  Bridewell — affected  to  feel  in- 
sulted by  contact  with  the  Jews,  and,  under  the  pre- 
text that  their  cloth  was  disgraced  by  them,  caused 
new  scenes  of  horror  and  cruelty.  In  Prague,  since 
the  time  of  Charles  IV  the  chief  city  of  Germany,  a 
bloody  persecution  was  set  on  foot  by  their  agency. 
A  local  priest — perhaps  one  of  those  whom  Emperor 
Wenceslaus  had  caused  to  be  pilloried  with  their 
concubines — passed  through  the  Jewish  quarter  on 
Easter  Sunday  (April  i8th,  1389)  with  the  host,  to 
visit  a  dying  person.  Jewish  children  playing  in 
the  street — it  was  one  of  the  latter  days  of  the 
Passover  feast — were  throwing  sand  at  one  another, 
and  a  few  grains  happened  to  fall  upon  the  priest's 
robe.  His  attendants  immediately  turned  upon  the 
children,  and  cruelly  beat  them.  Their  cries  quickly 
brought  their  parents  to  their  rescue,  whereupon 

CH.  V.  JEWS   OF    PRAGUE.  I65 

the  priest  fled  to  the  market-place,  loudly  proclaim- 
ing that  his  holy  office  had  been  profaned  by  Jews. 
To  invest  the  incident  with  the  necessary  import- 
ance, he  exaggerated  it,  and  said  that  he  was  pelted 
with  stones  until  forced  to  drop  the  host.  The  citi- 
zens and  lower  orders  of  Prague  immediately  banded 
themselves  together,  and,  armed  with  murderous 
weapons  of  every  description,  made  a  violent  attack 
upon  the  houses  of  the  Jews.  As  usual,  they  offered 
their  victims  the  choice  between  death  and  baptism, 
but  they  found  them  steadfast  in  their  faith.  Many 
thousands  perished  in  the  massacre,  which  lasted  a 
whole  day  and  night.  Several  of  the  Jews,  among 
them  their  venerable  rabbi,  first  took  the  lives  of 
their  wives  and  children,  and  then  their  own,  to 
escape  the  cruelties  of  their  enemies.  The  syna- 
gogue was  laid  in  ashes,  and  the  holy  books  and 
scrolls  torn  and  trodden  under  foot.  Not  even  the 
burial  ground  escaped  the  fury  of  these  Christian 
zealots.  The  corpses  in  the  streets  were  stripped 
of  their  clothing,  left  naked,  and  then  burnt. 

For  the  same  offense — that  is,  for  no  offense  at 
all — the  communities  in  the  vicinity  of  the  Bohemian 
capital  were  "confined,  oppressed,  ill-treated  and 
persecuted  "  The  reigning  pope  issued  a  bull  con- 
demning the  outrages  (July  2d,  1389),  and  based 
his  action  upon  the  edict  of  Pope  Innocent  IV,  which 
enacted  that  Jews  should  not  be  forcibly  baptized, 
nor  disturbed  in  the  observance  of  their  festivals ; 
but  he  failed  to  produce  an  impression  on  the  con- 
sciences of  the  faithful.  It  was  in  vain,  too,  that  the 
Jews  appealed  to  their  liege  lord,  the  German  em- 
peror Wenceslaus,  in  whose  capital  the  persecution 
had  originated.  This  prince — who,  had  he  not  been 
an  emperor,  would  certainly  have  been  a  freebooter 
— was  a  man  of  sense  only  on  the  rare  occasions 
when  he  was  not  intoxicated.  His  reply  to  the  rep- 
resentations of  his  Jewish  subjects  was  that  they 
had  deserved  the  attacks  made  upon  them,  as  they 

l66  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

had  had  no  right  to  show  themselves  outside  their 
houses  on  Easter  Sunday.  For  the  goods  and  chat- 
tels they  had  left  behind  them  he  exhibited  more 
concern,  promptly  ordering  them  to  be  appropriated 
to  his  empty  exchequer.  This  was  the  measure  of 
his  general  attitude  towards  the  Jews.  During  sev- 
eral years  he  attempted  to  possess  himself  of  their 
monetary  claims  on  his  Christian  subjects,  and  to 
carry  out  his  design  he  convened  (1385)  a  confer- 
ence of  representatives  of  the  Suabian  cities,  which 
met  at  Ulm.  Despite  the  impoverishment  of  the 
German  communities,  he  exacted  from  every  Jew, 
even  from  every  Jewish  youth  and  maiden,  the  so- 
called  "  golden  penny  "  poll-tax,  amounting  to  one 
gulden  annually.  He  openly  declared  that  the  pos- 
sessions of  the  Jews  were  his  personal  property, 
and  forbade  them  to  sell  or  mortgage  anything. 
And  still  Emperor  Wenceslaus  was  not  the  worst 
of  rulers  in  the  eyes  of  the  Jews.  The  rabbi,  Avi- 
gedor  Kara,  of  Prague,  boasted  his  friendship  ;  and 
the  Jews  of  Germany  whispered  significantly  to  one 
another  that  his  allegiance  to  the  teaching  of  Christ 
was  very  weak. 

This  storm  of  spoliation  and  persecution  had  no 
far-reaching  consequences  in  the  history  of  the 
German  Jews.  It  could  not  affect  their  abject  con- 
dition, for  they  had  been  too  long  accustomed  to 
turn  their  cheeks  submissively  to  the  smiter.  Quite 
different  were  the  effects  of  a  contemporary  perse- 
cution in  Spain.  Here  the  very  heart  of  the  Jew- 
ish race  was  attacked,  and  the  results  made  them- 
selves felt  in  the  history  of  the  whole  Jewish  people. 
The  Spanish  Jews  had  until  then  been  more  hated 
than  despised;  the  horrors  of  this  persecution, 
however,  so  thoroughly  cowed  their  spirits,  so  par- 
alyzed their  energies,  and  humbled  their  pride,  that 
they,  too,  became  the  scorn  of  their  oppressors. 
As  in  Prague,  the  outbreak  was  the  work  of  an 
ecclesiastic  and  a  mob,  but  here  it  assumed   the 


vastest  proportions,  and  developed  permanent  re- 
sults, the  operations  of  which  were  disastrous  in 
the  extreme.  It  arose  in  Seville  through  the  agita- 
tion of  a  fanatical  priest,  Ferdinand  (Ferrand) 
Martinez,  who  seemed  to  consider  implacable  hatred 
of  the  Jews  as  the  essence  of  his  religion;  His 
discourses  were  devoted  to  stirring  up  the  popu- 
lace against  them,  and  he  thundered  against  their 
hardened  infidelity,  their  pride,  their  heaped-up 
riches,  their  greed,  and  their  usury.  In  Seville  he 
found  the  people  only  too  ready  to  listen  to  him, 
for  there  the  Jews  were  hated  with  special  intensity. 
The  citizens  could  not  forgive  them  the  important 
part  they  had  played  in  the  civil  war  between  Don 
Pedro  and  Don  Henry  II,  and  particularly  the  sus- 
picious circumstances  of  the  death  of  Joseph  Pichon, 
who  had  been  so  popular  among  them.  As  long 
as  Don  Juan  I  lived,  Martinez  took  care  to  restrain 
the  mob  from  open  violence,  for  though  the  king 
regarded  the  Jews  with  but  little  affection,  he  was 
in  the  habit  of  punishing  lawless  outbreaks  with  the 
utmost  severity.  No  sooner  was  he  dead,  however, 
than  the  bigoted  cleric  thought  he  might  dare  the 
utmost.  The  circumstances  of  the  government 
were  favorable  to  the  development  of  his  plans. 
The  new  monarch,  Henry  III,  was  a  boy  of  only 
eleven  years  of  age,  and  in  the  council  of  regency 
discord  reigned,  threatening  to  involve  the  country 
in  another  civil  war. 

One  day  (March  15,  1391) — a  memorable  day,  not 
only  for  the  Jews  and  for  Spain,  but  for  the  history 
of  the  entire  world,  for  on  that  day  the  first  germ  of 
the  monstrous  Inquisition  was  created — Martinez, 
preaching  as  usual  against  the  Jews,  deliberately 
incited  the  mob  to  riot  in  the  expectation  that 
many  Jews  would  abjure  their  religion.  The 
passions  of  the  multitude  became  inflamed,  and 
broke  out  in  wild  uproar.  The  authorities  of  the 
city,  the  Mayor  (Alguacil  mayor),  Don  Alvar  Perei 

1 68  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

de  Guzman,  and  two  of  the  magistrates  interposed 
to  protect  the  Jews,  arresting  two  of  the  ringleaders 
in  the  riot,  and  ordering  them  to  be  flogged.  This 
proceeding  excited  the  fanatical  mob  only  the  more. 
In  their  fury  they  put  a  large  number  of  Jews  to 
death,  and  threatened  with  a  like  fate  the  governor 
of  the  city,  Don  Juan  Alfonso,  and  the  officials  who 
were  attempting  to  shield  the  unfortunate  Hebrews. 
A  few  of  the  leading  Jews  of  Seville,  perceiving  that 
the  local  authorities  were  not  strong  enough  to 
grapple  with  the  rising,  hurried  to  the  court  of  the 
young  king,  and  appealed  to  the  council  of  regency 
to  stop  the  slaughter  of  their  brethren.  Their  rep- 
resentations were  favorably  received.  Messengers 
were  dispatched  forthwith  to  Seville  with  instruc- 
tions to  tell  the  populace  to  abstain  from  further 
outrage.  The  local  nobility  seconded  the  action  of 
the  king,  and,  ranging  themselves  on  the  side  of  the 
Jews,  succeeded  in  mastering  the  rioters.  When 
the  Christian  inhabitants  of  the  neighboring  towns 
showed  a  disposition  to  imitate  the  scenes  enacted 
in  Seville,  the  council  of  regency  also  sent  messen- 
gers thither  armed  with  the  same  powers.  Thus, 
for  a  brief  moment,  the  threatened  Jew-hunt  was 
delayed,  but  by  no  means  suppressed.  It  was  soon 
renewed  with  greater  violence,  and  on  a  far  more 
extended  scale.  The  young  king  and  a  few  of  the 
members  of  the  council  of  regency  were  probably 
earnest  in  their  desire  not  to  permit  the  massacres, 
but,  unfortunately,  they  were  not  sufficiently  inter- 
ested to  take  adequate  precautions  against  them. 
One  such  precaution  should  have  been  to  silence 
the  outrage-monger,  Ferdinand  Martinez,  or  at  least 
to  prohibit  his  inflammatory  harangues ;  but  they 
did  nothing  of  the  kind.  They  left  him  perfectly 
free  to  level  his  poisonous  eloquence  at  the  Jews, 
and  he  was  not  slow  to  take  advantage  of  their  inac- 
tion. Encouraged  by  the  dissensions  in  the  govern- 
ment, and  the  disorder  which  consequently  reigned 


throughout  the  entire  land,  he  again  set  himself  to 
stir  up  the  rabble  of  Seville,  and  this  time  with 
greater  success.  Hardly  three  months  after  the  last 
outbreak,  the  mob  resumed  (June  6th,  1391)  its 
holy  work  of  massacre  by  setting  fire  to  the  Jewish 
quarter  (Juderia)  and  slaughtering  its  inhabitants. 
The  result  was  that,  of  the  important  and  wealthy 
community  of  Seville,  which  had  numbered  7,000 
families,  or  30,000  souls,  but  few  remained.  Murder 
counted  not  more  than  4,000  victims,  but  to  escape 
death  the  majority  permitted  themselves  to  be  bap- 
tized. Women  and  children  were  sold  into  Maho- 
metan slavery  by  the  bloody  rioters.  Of  the  three 
synagogues  of  Seville  two  were  transformed  into 
churches.  Among  the  large  number  who  sought 
refuge  from  fire  and  sword  at  the  baptismal  font 
was  Samuel  Abrabanel,  the  ancestor  of  the  after- 
wards celebrated  Abrabanel  family,  and  an  ornament 
of  his  community  in  the  reign  of  Don  Henry  II,  with 
whom  he  possessed  great  influence.  He  adopted 
the  Christian  name  of  Juan  de  Sevilla. 

From  Seville  the  persecution  swept  like  a  raging 
torrent  over  a  large  portion  of  Spain.  Its  progress 
was  stimulated  more  by  a  craving  for  plunder  than 
by  fanatical  eagerness  to  proselytize.  Cordova,  the 
parent  community  of  the  Peninsula,  the  mold  in 
which  the  high  character  of  Spanish  Judaism  had 
been  cast,  was  the  next  scene  of  its  activity.  Here 
also  many  Jews  were  cruelly  murdered,  and  a  large 
number  forced  to  embrace  Christianity.  On  the  fast 
day  commemorating  the  fall  of  Jerusalem  (Tammuz 
17th — June  20th)  the  population  of  the  capital, 
Toledo,  rose  against  the  largest  Jewish  community 
in  Spain.  The  blood  of  the  believers  in  the  unity 
of  God,  who  steadfastly  refused  to  change  their 
faith,  deluged  the  streets.  Among  the  many  mar- 
tyrs who  fell  at  Toledo  were  the  descendants  of  the 
Asheri  family.  They  met  death  with  the  same  un- 
flinching courage  as  their  German  brethren.    Jehuda 

170  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH,  V. 

ben  Asher  II,  one  of  Asheri's  great-grandsons,  who 
lived  in  Burgos,  but  happened  to  be  at  Toledo,  took 
with  his  own  hands  the  lives  of  his  mother-in-law 
and  wife,  and  then  his  own.  Here  also  a  large 
number  went  over  to  Christianity.  About  seventy- 
communities  were  visited  by  this  terrible  persecu- 
tion, among  them  those  of  Ecija,  Huete,  Logrono, 
Burgos,  Carrion,  and  Ocana.  At  Ascalona  not  a 
single  Jew  remained  alive.  The  thoroughly  mad- 
dened Christian  population  meditated  a  similar  fate 
for  the  Moors,  or  Mahometans,  living  in  the  king- 
dom of  Seville.  The  more  prudent  among  them, 
however,  pointed  out  the  danger  of  such  a  step, 
reminding  them  that  the  Christians  living  in  the 
Mahometan  kingdom  of  Granada,  or  held  as  pris- 
oners by  the  Moors  on  the  other  side  of  the  straits 
of  Gibraltar,  might  be  sacrificed  in  retaliation.  The 
massacre  of  the  Moors  was  consequently  aban- 
doned. The  Jews  alone  were  made  to  drain  the 
cup  of  bitterness  to  the  dregs,  because  they  were 
too  weak  to  protect  themselves.  Nothing  demon- 
strates more  impressively  that  the  clergy  had  suc- 
ceeded in  transforming  the  people  into  a  race  of 

In  the  kingdom  of  Aragen,  where  both  ruler  and 
people  were  opposed  to  Castile,  and,  as  a  rule,  held 
that  to  be  wrong  which  in  the  latter  state  was  con- 
sidered right,  the  hatred  and  persecution  of  the 
Jews  were  promoted  with  the  same  zeal.  Here  the 
government  was  in  the  hands  of  the  weak  but  well- 
meaning  king,  Juan  I,  who,  absorbed  by  his  love  of 
music  and  the  chase,  wielded  but  little  authority, 
and  was  the  laughing-stock  of  his  generally  un- 
cultured subjects.  About  three  weeks  after  the 
outbreak  at  Toledo,  the  inhabitants  of  the  province 
of  Valencia  rose  against  the  Jews  (Ab  7th — July  9th). 
Of  the  5,000  souls  that  constituted  the  Jewish  com- 
munity in  the  city  of  Valencia,  not  one  was  left. 
Some    250    were    murdered,    a   few   saved   them- 


selves  by  flight,  and  the  rest  embraced  Christianity. 
Throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  kingdom 
the  defenseless  Jews  were  attacked  with  fire  and 
sword,  the  community  of  Murviedro  alone  being 

The  sanguinary  madness  then  crossed  the  sea, 
and  alighted  on  the  island  of  Majorca.  In  the 
capital,  Palma,  a  crowd  of  roughs  and  sailors  pa- 
raded the  Monte-Zion  street,  in  which  the  Jews 
resided,  and  holding  aloft  a  cross,  rudely  formed  by 
tying  together  two  cudgels,  shouted  "  Death  to  the 
Jews"  (August  2d — Ellul  ist).  One  sturdy  Jew, 
assaulted  by  the  rabble,  ventured  to  defend  himself, 
and  severely  punished  his  assailants.  Hereupon  the 
mob  broke  out  in  uncontrollable  violence,  and  300 
martyrs  fell  to  its  fury.  Among  the  victims  was  the 
rabbi,  En-Vidal  Ephraim  Gerundi,  whose  contro- 
versy with  Solomon  Zarfati  has  already  been  re- 
ferred to.  A  large  number  of  Jews  here  also  sought 
safety  in  baptism. 

Three  days  later,  as  if  by  previous  arrangement, 
the  Jew-massacres  began  in  Barcelona,  one  of  the 
proudest  homes  of  Jewish  intelligence.  The  great 
wealth  which  the  Jews  of  this  city  had  acquired  by 
their  extensive  maritime  commerce  appears  to  have 
excited  the  envy  of  the  Christians,  and  tempted 
them  to  outrage.  On  the  5th  August,  a  Sabbath, 
on  which  was  held  a  minor  festival  in  honor  of  Mary, 
the  mob  attacked  the  Jews  as  if  to  honor  their  queen 
of  heaven  with  human  sacrifices.  In  the  first  as- 
sault, close  upon  250  victims  fell.  The  larger  por- 
tion of  the  community  were  harbored  and  cared  for 
in  the  citadel  by  the  governor  of  the  town ;  but  here 
again  the  rabble  opposed  the  nobility.  They  at- 
tacked the  citadel  with  crossbows,  laid  siege  to  it  in 
due  form,  and  ultimately  set  it  on  fire.  When  the 
imprisoned  Jews  saw  that  there  was  no  longer  a 
chance  of  being  saved,  a  large  number  slew  them- 
selves with  their  own  hands,  or  threw  themselves 

1/2  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

from  the  walls.  Others  sallied  forth  from  the  fort- 
ress to  meet  their  assailants  in  the  open  field,  and 
fell  in  honorable  combat.  Among  the  martyrs  was 
the  noble  Chasdai  Crescas'  young-  and  only  son, 
then  on  the  eve  of  his  marriage.  Eleven  thousand 
Jews  are  said  to  have  been  baptized  on  this  occa- 
sion. Only  a  very  few  escaped,  and  not  one  re- 
mained in  Barcelona.  The  same  fate  befell  the 
communities  of  Lerida,  Gerona,  and  other  towns, 
in  each  case  a  large  number  of  Jews  being  mur- 
dered, some  being  baptized,  and  a  very  few  escap- 
ing by  flight.  In  Gerona,  where  the  community 
was  distinguished  for  rigid  piety,  the  number  of 
converts  to  Christianity  was  exceedingly  small,  the 
rabbis  setting  their  flocks  an  example  by  their  stead- 
fastness and  contempt  for  death.  In  Catalonia,  as 
in  Valencia,  but  few  Jews  were  spared,  and  they 
owed  their  good  fortune  to  the  protection  received 
— in  exchange,  of  course,  for  large  sums  of  money — 
in  the  castles  of  the  nobility.  In  Aragon  itself  the 
outbreaks  were  not  so  serious,  as  the  Jewish  com- 
munities had  made  a  timely  and  prudent  offer  of  all 
their  wealth  for  the  protection  of  the  court. 

For  three  months  fire  and  sword  raged  unresisted 
in  the  majority  of  the  Spanish  Jewries.  When  the 
storm  abated,  the  Jews  remaining  were  so  broken 
in  spirit  that  they  did  not  venture  forth  from  their 
places  of  refuge.  The  sad  occurrences  were  de- 
scribed in  a  heart-breaking,  tearful  epistle  to  the 
community  of  Perpignan,  which  Chasdai  Crescas, 
who  had  been  robbed  of  an  only  son  and  his  entire 
fortune,  penned  in  answer  to  their  sympathetic  in- 
quiries. Thus,  to  Spanish  Jews  came  the  tragical 
fate  which  had  befallen  their  German  brethren, 
hardly  half  a  century  before,  at  the  time  of  the  Black 
Death.  They  also  had  acquired  materials  for  bitter 
songs  of  lamentation,  which  they  inserted  in  the 
Jewish  liturgy.  But  the  consequences  of  the  per- 
secution were  even  more  terrible  than  the  persecu- 


tion  itself.  Their  pride  was  completely  crushed, 
and  their  spirit  permanently  darkened.  They  who 
had  formerly  held  their  heads  so  proudly  aloft,  now 
slunk  timidly  along,  anxiously  avoiding  every  Chris- 
tian as  a  possible  murderer  or  instigator  of  murder- 
ous assaults.  If  hundred  Jews  were  assembled,  and 
a  single  rough  abused  them,  they  fled  like  a  flock 
of  frightened  birds.  This  persecution  gave  them 
their  first  experience  of  the  bitterness  of  exile,  for, 
notwithstanding  many  untoward  circumstances,  they 
had  always  imagined  themselves  secure  and  at  home 
in  Spain.  Now,  for  the  first  time,  their  haughty 
demeanor  was  humbled.  They  were  no  longer  the 
men  who  had  so  valiantly  wielded  the  sword  in  the 
armies  of  Don  Pedro.  In  Portugal  alone  the  Jews 
were  free  from  fanatical  attacks.  Its  king,  Don 
Jocio  I,  enjoyed  a  popularity  to  which,  in  a  crisis,  he 
was  able  to  appeal.  As  his  instructions  were  cheer- 
fully obeyed,  he  was  able  to  preserve  order  and  put 
down  outbreaks  with  a  firm  hand.  The  chief  rabbi, 
Don  Moses  Navarro,  brought  under  his  notice  the 
two  bulls  of  the  popes  Clement  VI  and  Boniface  IX, 
in  which  force  was  forbidden  in  converting  Jews. 
The  king  immediately  issued  an  order  (July  17th, 
1392)  prohibiting  persecutions.  Wide  publicity  was 
given  to  the  bulls  in  every  town  in  Portugal,  and 
they  were  inserted  among  the  statutes  of  the  realm. 
Portugal  thus  became  an  asylum  for  the  persecuted 
Jews  of  Spain. 

The  Jews  of  the  south  of  France  were  not  entirely 
exempted  from  the  horrors  of  this  persecution. 
The  tempest  which  had  crossed  the  sea  to  the 
island  of  Majorca  also  whirled  over  the  snow- 
capped Pyrenees,  and  caught  up  the  Jews  of  Prov- 
ence in  its  deadly  eddies.  No  sooner  was  intelli- 
gence received  of  the  bloody  massacres  of  the  Jews 
of  Spain  than  the  populace  of  Provence  rose,  and 
began  to  plunder  and  murder  their  Jewish 

174  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

The  Jews  in  France  had  been  permitted  to  settle 
in  the  country  only  for  a  specified  time,  and,  although 
this  term  was  frequently  extended,  their  thoughts 
were  necessarily  always  directed  towards  possible 
banishment.  They  were  compelled  to  amass  and 
keep  in  readiness  sufficient  money  to  enable  them, 
at  any  moment,  to  start  life  afresh  in  another  land. 
Like  their  ancestors  in  Egypt,  they  were  ready  for 
an  exodus,  their  loins  girded,  their  shoes  on  their 
feet,  and  their  staffs  in  their  hands.  Although  the 
acquisition  of  land  was  allowed  them,  they  were 
obliged  to  concentrate  themselves  on  the  money 
business,  and  pursue  the  advantages  offered  by  each 
moment.  Necessity  made  them  usurers.  Some 
among  them  charged  a  higher  rate  of  interest  than 
permitted  by  the  privileges  granted  them,  and 
exacted  even  compound  interest  from  dilatory 
debtors.  But  it  was  the  king  himself  who  forced 
them  to  immoderate,  exasperating  usury,  by  the 
extravagant  demands  he  made  upon  their  purses  to 
meet  the  expenses  of  his  wars,  and  the  Jews  could 
fulfill  his  demands  only  by  transgressing  the  laws, 
but  their  exactions  naturally  rendered  them  hateful 
in  the  eyes  of  the  general  public.  That  Jewish 
creditors  frequently  had  ill-intentioned  or  tardy 
Christian  debtors  imprisoned  to  force  them  to  dis- 
charge their  liabilities  tended  to  increase  the  bitter- 
ness. The  exercise  of  this  right  was  regarded  as  a 
triumph  of  "  the  children  of  the  devil  over  the  chil- 
dren of  heaven."  The  public  became  so  angered  at 
their  possessing  the  privilege  that  the  king,  Charles 
VI,  was  obliged  to  abolish  it.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  necessityof  maintaining  the  privilege  was  shown 
to  be  so  imperative — the  Jews  being  threatened 
with  the  entire  loss  of  their  outstanding  debts — that 
the  king  and  parliament  had  to  grant  it  a  month 
later  in  a  modified  form.  They  permitted  the  Jews 
to  imprison  only  the  debtors  who,  in  their  bonds, 
made  themselves  answerable  with  their  bodies, 


A  trifling  circumstance  sufficed  to  kindle  into  a 
flame  these  embers  of  Jew-hatred  in  France.  A 
wealthy  Israelite,  Denys  Machault,  of  Villa-Parisis, 
became  a  convert  to  Christianity,  and  then  suddenly 
disappeared.  The  affair  became  the  subject  of 
stranore  rumors.     Some  said  that  he  had  been  mur- 


dered  by  Jews ;  others  that  he  had  been  hurried 
abroad  with  a  view  to  providing  him  with  an  easy 
means  of  returning  to  Judaism.  The  clergy  inter- 
ested themselves  in  the  mystery,  fanatical  appeals 
were  made  to  the  people,  and,  eventually,  the  Paris 
tribunals  prosecuted  seven  prominent  Hebrews.  A 
commission  of  priests  and  lawyers  subjected  the 
accused  to  the  rack,  and  extorted  the  confession 
that  they  had  advised  Denys  Machault  to  abandon 
his  new  faith.  The  commission  condemned  them  to 
the  stake  as  promoters  of  apostasy  from  Christianity, 
Parliament  substituted  an  apparently  milder  punish- 
ment. It  ordered  the  accused  to  be  scourged  in  three 
of  the  public  places  of  Paris,  kept  in  goal  until  Denys 
Machault  re-appeared,  and  then,  stripped  of  all  their 
possessions,  expelled  the  country.  From  the  pub- 
licity given  to  this  affair,  it  created  an  extraordinary 
sensation,  and  still  further  inflamed  the  popular  pas- 
sions against  the  Jews. 

For  about  three  months  the  court  extended  a 
protecting  wing  over  the  unfortunate  Jews,  but  soon 
withdrew  it  in  face  of  the  stormy,  menacing  clamor 
of  the  clergy  and  people.  At  last  the  enemies  of 
the  Jews  prevailed  upon  the  king  to  promulgate  the 
order  of  banishment.  Doubtless  with  malice  afore- 
thought the  day  chosen  for  the  issue  of  the  decree 
was  the  solemn  Fast  of  Atonement  (September 
17th,  1394),  when  the  Jews  were  afflicting  their 
souls  during  the  entire  day  in  the  synagogues.  The 
prolonged  term  granted  for  their  sojourn  in  the 
country  not  having  expired,  it  became  necessary  to 
put  forward  an  excuse  for  ignoring  the  convention. 
The  royal  decree  was  not  able  to  impute  to  the  Jews 

176  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

Specific  crimes  or  misdemeanors,  and,  consequently, 
confined  itself  to  vague  generalities.  It  had  been 
reported  to  his  majesty  by  trustworthy  persons,  in- 
cluding many  of  his  lieutenants  and  other  officials, 
that  complaints  had  been  made  concerning  offenses 
committed  by  the  Jews  against  the  Christian  religion 
and  the  special  laws  drawn  up  for  their  control. 
That  meant  that  they  had  encouraged  baptized  Jews 
to  recant,  and  had  practiced  extortionate  usury — 
the  latter  Charles  had  partly  approved  and  partly 
condoned.  The  decree  then  stated  that  his  majesty 
had  made  the  irrevocable  law  that  henceforth  no 
Jews  should  be  allowed  to  reside  or  tarry  in  any 
part  of  France,  either  in  Languedoil  or  Languedoc 
(northern  and  southern  France). 

Thus,  ninety  years  after  their  first  expulsion  by 
Philip  le  Bel,  and  after  a  second  sojourn  of  thirty- 
four  years,  the  French  Jews  were  compelled  once 
more  to  grasp  the  wanderer's  staff.  Charles,  how- 
ever, dealt  more  leniently  with  them  than  his  heart- 
less ancestor.  They  were  not,  as  before,  robbed 
of  all  their  possessions,  and  turned  adrift  stripped 
to  the  skin.  On  the  contrary,  Charles  VI  issued 
orders  to  the  prevot  of  Paris  and  his  provincial 
governors,  instructing  them  to  see  that  no  harm 
come  to  the  Jews,  either  in  their  persons  or  their 
chattels,  and  that  they  cross  the  frontier  safely. 
Time  was  also  allowed  them  up  to  the  3d  November 
to  collect  their  debts.  They  did  not  leave  France 
until  the  end  of  1394  or  the  beginning  of  the  follow- 
ing year.  To  some  of  the  nobility  and  towns  the 
expulsion  was  not  a  welcome  measure.  Thus,  the 
Count  de  Foix  wished  at  all  hazards  to  retain  the 
community  of  Pamier,  and  had  to  be  forced  by  royal 
officers  to  expel  the  Jews.  In  Toulouse  twelve  Jew- 
ish families,  and  in  the  vicinity  seven  more,  remained 
behind,  so  that  they  must  have  received  special 
indulgences.  Jews  also  remained  in  the  provinces 
not  directly  dependent  on  the  French  crown — in  the 

CH.  V.  FRENCH    REFUGEES.  1/7 

Dauphine,  in  Provence  proper,  and  in  Aries,  these 
being  fiefs  of  the  German  empire.  The  flourishing 
seaport,  Marseilles,  possessed  a  Jewish  community 
for  a  long  time  after  the  expulsion.  Even  the  popes 
of  Avignon  tolerated  Jews  in  Avignon  and  Carpen- 
tras,  the  chief  towns  of  their  small  ecclesiastical 
province  of  Venaissin ;  and  here  they  remained 
until  very  recent  times,  using  a  ritual  of  their  own, 
which  differed  from  that  of  their  Spanish  and  their 
French  brethren.  The  papacy  had  now  little  to  fear 
from  the  helpless,  enfeebled  Jews  ;  hence,  doubtless, 
this  parade  of  toleration. 

The  exiles  who  failed  to  find  an  asylum  in  the 
tolerant  principalities  of  France  emigrated  to  Ger- 
many and  Italy;  only  a  few  directed  their  steps  to 
Spain,  formerly  the  most  hospitable  refuge  for  per- 
secuted Jews.  Since  the  massacres  of  1391  that 
country  had  become  a  purgatory  to  the  native  Jews, 
and  so  long  as  foreign  Jews  could  find  a  shelter  else- 
where, they  naturally  avoided  its  frontiers.  French 
communities  migrated  in  a  body  to  Piedmont,  and 
settled  in  the  towns  of  Asti,  Fossano,  and  Moncalvo, 
where  they  could  maintain  unchanged  their  old 
synagogue  ritual.  The  fate  of  the  larger  number 
of  the  French  exiles  may  be  described  in  the  words 
of  Amos :  "  As  if  a  man  did  flee  from  a  lion,  and  a 
bear  met  him  ;  or  went  into  the  house,  and  leaned 
his  hand  on  the  wall,  and  a  serpent  bit  him."  Almost 
everywhere  they  were  met  with  a  storm  of  barbarity, 
not  unfrequently  stirred  up  against  them  by  baptized 
Jews.  In  Germany  an  apostate  named  Pessach,  who, 
with  Christianity,  had  adopted  the  name  of  Peter, 
brought  serious  accusations  against  his  brethren  in 
race,  with  a  view  to  bringing  about  another  per- 
secution. To  the  usual  charges  that  the  Jews  called 
Jesus  the  crucified  or  the  hanged,  and  that  they 
cursed  the  Christian  clergy  in  one  of  their  prayers, 
Pessach-Peter  added  others.  He  stated  that  an 
abusive  allusion  to  Jesus  was  contained  in  the  sub- 

1^8  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  V. 

lime  Alenu  prayer,  which  pictures  the  future  reign  of 
God  on  earth,  and  he  made  other  lying  and  ludicrous 
charges.  The  result  was  that  a  large  number  of  the 
Jews  of  Prague  were  arrested  and  imprisoned 
(August  3d,  1399).  Among  them  was  the  fore- 
most and,  perhaps,  only  really  learned  German  Jew 
of  the  Middle  Ages,  Lipmann  (Tab-Yomi)  of  Mlihl- 
hausen,  a  scholar  accomplished  alike  in  Biblical  and 
Talmudical  lore,  who  had  read  not  only  Karaite 
authors,  but  also  the  New  Testament  in  a  Latin 
version.  The  clergy  called  upon  him  to  answer 
Pessach-Peter's  charges.  His  defense  was  forcible, 
but  seems  to  have  had  little  effect,  for  on  the  day 
Emperor  Wenceslaus  was  deposed,  and  Rupert  of 
the  Palatinate  elected  his  successor  (August  2 2d, 
1400),  seventy-seven  Jews  were  executed,  and  three 
weeks  later  three  more  led  to  the  stake. 



The  Marranos — The  Satirists — Pero  Ferrus  of  Alcala,  Diego  de 
Valencia,  and  Villasandino — Astruc  Raimuch  and  Solomon 
Bonfed — Paul  de  Santa  Maria  and  his  Zealous  Campaign 
against  the  Jews — Joshua  Ibn-Vives — Profiat  Duran  (Efodi) — 
Meir  Alguades — The  Philosophy  of  Crescas — Death  of  Henry  III 
of  Castile  and  Unfavorable  Change  in  the  Position  of  the  Jews — 
Messianic  Dreams  of  the  Kabbalists — Jews  seek  an  Asylum  in 
Northern  Africa — Simon  Duran — Geronimo  de  Santa  F6,  Vincent 
Ferrer  and  Benedict  XIII — Anti-Jewish  Edict  of  Juan  II — Special 
Jewish  Costume — Conversion  of  Jews  owing  to  Ferrer's  Violent 
Efforts — Disputation  at  Tortosa — The  Jewish  Spokesmen  at  the 
Conference — Incidents  of  the  Meeting — Geronimo  instigates  the 
Publication  of  a  Bull  for  the  Burning  of  the  Talmud — Pope 
Martin  V  befriends  the  Jews. 

1391 — 1420  C.E. 

The  baptized  Jews  who  had  abandoned  their  faith 
during  the  terrible  persecution  of  1391  became  a 
source  of  considerable  trouble  to  their  Spanish 
brethren.  They  had  embraced  the  cross  only  to 
save  their  lives,  or  the  lives  of  those  dear  to  them ; 
for,  surely,  they  had  found  no  convincing  demon- 
stration of  the  truth  of  the  Christian  religion  in  the 
violence  of  its  missionaries,  or  in  the  death  agonies 
of  their  brethren  in  race  who  had  perished  rather 
than  apostatize.  Dazed  and  broken-hearted,  these 
forced  converts  (Anusim)  to  Christianity  felt  more 
intense  antipathy  to  their  new  religion  than  when 
they  had  been  openly  opposed  to  it.  It  was  natural 
for  them  to  resolve  to  take  the  first  opportunity  of 
casting  away  their  disguise,  and  returning  to  Juda- 
ism with  increased  zeal.  Many  of  these  new  Chris- 
tians emigrated  to  the  neighboring  Moorish  coun- 
tries ;  to  Granada  or  across  the  straits  to  Morocco, 
Tunis,  or  Fez,  where  the  people,  wiser  and  more 
tolerant  than  Christian  Europe,  gladly  opened  their 

l80  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH,  VI. 

doors  to  a  wealthy  and  industrious  race.  The 
majority,  unable  to  leave  Spanish  territory,  yet 
averse  to  wholly  discarding  their  ancient  faith,  joined 
in  Jewish  ceremonies  and  celebrations  whilst  out- 
wardly appearing  Christians.  The  kings  of  Castile, 
Aragon  and  Majorca,  who  had  disapproved  of  con- 
versions by  mob  violence,  allowed  the  Jews  to  do 
as  they  pleased.  The  authorities  either  did  not  or 
would  not  see  their  relapse  into  Judaism,  and  the 
Inquisition  had  not  yet  been  established  in  Spain. 
These  forced  converts  gradually  formed  themselves 
into  a  peculiar  class,  outwardly  Christians,  at  heart 
Jews.  By  the  populace,  who  nicknamed  them 
Marranos,  or  "  The  Damned,"  they  were  regarded 
with  more  distrust  and  hatred  than  the  openly  ob- 
servant Jews,  not  because  of  their  secret  fidelity  to 
Judaism,  but  on  account  of  their  descent  and  inborn 
intelligence,  energy,  and  skill.  Baptized  Jews,  who 
had  been  glad  to  disencumber  themselves  of  their 
Judaism,  shared  in  these  feelings  of  aversion.  They 
were  the  worldlings  who  valued  wealth,  rank,  and 
luxury  above  religion,  or  the  over-educated  whose 
philosophy  had  led  them  to  skepticism,  and  whose 
selfishness  induced  them  to  welcome  a  change  which 
brought  them  out  of  the  narrow  confines  of  a  small 
community,  and  opened  up  a  wider  world  to  them. 
Their  hearts  had  never  been  with  Judaism,  and  they 
had  adhered  to  it  only  out  of  respect  or  a  certain 
compunction.  To  them,  forced  baptism  was  a  relief 
from  chafing  fetters,  a  welcome  coercion  to  over- 
come scruples  which  had  always  sat  hghtly  upon 
them.  For  their  own  advantage  they  simulated 
devotion  to  Christianity,  but  were  on  that  account 
neither  better  nor  more  religious  men.  The  un- 
scrupulous among  them  found  special  pleasure  in 
the  persecution  of  their  former  religion  and  its  fol- 
lowers. To  gratify  their  malice,  they  brought 
charges  against  rabbis  and  other  representative 
Jews,  or  any  member  of  the  community,  thus  en- 

CH.  VI.  DON    PERO    FERRUS.  l8l 

dangering  the  existence  of  the  whole  body  of  Jews 
in  the  country.  It  was  bad  enough  that  the  latter 
had  been  robbed  of  so  many  able  and  learned  men 
— physicians,  authors,  poets — and  that  the  church 
had  been  enriched  by  their  wealth  and  intelligence; 
but  these  very  forces  were  used  to  inflict  further 
mischief  on  the  Jews  that  had  remained  steadfast. 
Knowing  the  faults  of  their  former  brethren,  the 
converts  could  easily  attack  them.  Don  Pero  Fer- 
rus,  a  baptized  Jew,  made  the  community  and  rab- 
bis of  Alcala  the  target  for  his  ridicule.  In  a  poem 
he  represents  himself  exhausted  from  want  of  sleep 
finding  repose  at  last  in  the  synagogue  of  this 
town,  when  suddenly  he  is  disturbed,  and  scared 
away  without  mercy  by  "Jews  with  long  beards  and 
slovenly  garments  come  thither  for  early  morning 
prayer."  A  sharp  rejoinder  to  this  effort  of  Ferrus' 
"  buffoon  tongue  "  was  put  forth  by  a  Jewish  poet 
in  the  name  of  the  Alcala  community,  Spanish 
poetry  reaped  considerable  advantage  from  these 
passages  at  arms.  Verse,  up  to  that  period  starched, 
solemn,  and  stately  as  the  punctilious  ceremonial 
of  the  Madrid  court,  in  the  hands  of  Judaeo-Christian 
satirists  acquired  the  flexibility,  wit  and  merriment 
of  neo-Hebraic  poetry  at  its  best.  This  tone  and 
style  were  gradually  adopted  by  Christian  poets, 
who  borrowed  expressions  from  Jewish  writers  to 
give  point  to  their  epigrams.  Not  only  the  apos- 
tate, the  monk,  Diego  de  Valencia,  used  Hebrew 
words  in  lampoons  on  the  Jews,  but  the  same  prac- 
tice was  adopted  with  surprising  dexterity  by  the 
Christian  satirist,  Alfonso  Alvarez  de  Villasandino, 
the  "poet  prince"  of  his  day.  A  malicious  critic 
might  have  been  inclined  to  say  that  Spanish  poetry 
was  in  process  of  being  Judaized. 

A  few  of  the  new-Christians  showed  as  active  a 
zeal  in  the  propagation  of  Christianity  as  if  they  had 
been  born  Dominicans,  or  as  if  they  felt  isolated 
in  their  new  faith  among  the  old  Christians,  and 

1 82  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

yearned  for  the  companionship  of  their  former 
friends.  A  newly-baptized  physician,  Astruc  Rai- 
much,  of  Fraga,  who,  as  a  Jew,  had  been  a  pillar  of 
orthodoxy,  exerted  himself  to  make  converts,  taking 
to  himself  the  name  of  Francisco  God-flesh  (Dios- 
Carne).  He  spread  his  snares  particularly  with  a 
view  to  entrapping  one  of  his  young  friends.  A 
fluent  writer  of  Hebrew,  Astruc-Francisco  drew  up 
a  letter  in  that  language,  dwelling  on  the  decline  of 
Judaism  and  enthusiastically  propounding  the  dog- 
mas of  Christianity.  His  applications  of  Biblical 
texts  to  the  doctrines  of  the  Trinity,  Original  Sin, 
Redemption,  and  the  Lord's  Supper,  appear  almost 
droll  in  Hebrew.  His  friend's  answer  was  meek 
and  evasive,  every  word  carefully  weighed  to  avoid 
offending  the  delicate  sensibilities  of  the  church  and 
its  zealous  servants.  More  spirited  was  the  reply 
of  the  satirical  poet,  Solomon  ben  Reuben  Bonfed, 
who  in  rhymed  prose  set  himself  to  confute  Astruc- 
Francisco's  arguments  with  unsparing  incisiveness. 
Apologizing  in  his  introduction  for  interfering  be- 
tween two  friends,  he  proceeded  to  point  out  that 
as  a  Jew  the  questions  discussed  concerned  him 
nearly,  whilst  the  misstatements  made  rendered  it 
impossible  for  him  to  remain  silent.  Solomon  Bon- 
fed examined  somewhat  minutely  the  dogmas  of  the 
Incarnation,  Original  Sin,  and  Transubstantiation, 
showing  them  to  be  irrational  and  untenable.  He 
justly  said  :  "  You  twist  and  distort  the  Bible  text  to 
establish  the  Trinity.  Had  you  a  Quaternity,  you 
would  demonstrate  it  quite  as  strikingly  and  con- 
vincingly from  the  books  of  the  Old  Testament." 

Of  all  the  Jews  baptized  in  1391,  however,  none 
inflicted  so  much  injury  on  his  former  brethren  as 
Rabbi  Solomon  Levi  of  Burgos  (born  1351 — 1352, 
died  1435),  who  as  a  Christian  rose  to  very  im- 
portant ecclesiastical  and  political  dignities  under 
the  name  of  Paul  Burgensis,  or  de  Santa  Maria. 
Previous  to  his  change  of  creed  he  had  been  a  rabbi, 

CH.  VL  PAUL  DE  SANTA   MARIA.  1 83 

and  he  was  well  versed  in  Biblical,  Talmudical,  and 
Rabbinical  literature.  As  a  Jew  he  was  extremely 
orthodox  and  punctilious,  passing  in  his  own  circle 
for  a  pillar  of  the  faith.  His  nature  was,  however, 
shrewd  and  calculating.  Ambitious  and  vain  to  the 
last  degree,  he  soon  began  to  regard  as  too  narrow 
his  sphere  of  action  within  the  walls  of  the  college, 
which  during  a  long  period  counted  him  amongst 
its  students  and  teachers.  He  longed  for  a  life  of 
bustling  activity.  To  obtain  a  state  appointment, 
he  sought  access  to  court,  and  began  to  live  like  a 
grandee,  with  equipage  and  horses  and  numerous 
retinue.  It  was  his  ambition  to  become  a  Jewish 
Almoxarif  or  even  to  obtain  a  higher  appointment. 
His  occupations  bringing  him  into  daily  contact  with 
Christians,  and  frequently  involving  him  in  religious 
controversies,  he  devoted  some  attention  to  church 
literature,  in  order  to  be  able  to  make  a  display  of 
learning.  The  massacres  of  139 1  dissipated  his  last 
hope  of  obtaining  high  preferment  as  a  Jew,  and  he 
consequently  resolved,  in  his  fortieth  year,  to  be 
baptized.  To  derive  the  best  advantage  from  his 
conversion,  the  new  Christian,  Paul  de  Santa  Maria, 
caused  it  to  be  understood  that  he  had  embraced 
Christianity  willingly,  as  a  result  of  the  convincing 
arguments  put  forth  in  the  theological  writings  of 
the  schoolman  Thomas  Aquinas.  The  Jews  received 
such  protestations  with  distrust.  Knowing  him 
well,  they  did  not  scruple  to  ascribe  his  conversion 
to  a  craving  for  rank  and  power.  After  his  change 
of  creed,  his  family,  wife  and  sons,  renounced  him. 
For  a  commoner,  the  only  road  to  high  office  lay 
through  the  church.  Solomon-Paul  knew  this  well, 
and  at  once  proceeded  to  Paris  and  attended  the 
University,  where  he  pursued  theology.  His  knowl- 
edge of  Hebrew  gave  him  a  great  advantage,  and 
helped  him  to  distinguish  himself.  It  was  not  long 
before  the  quondam  rabbi  became  a  duly  ordained 
Catholic  priest.      Then   he  betook   himself  to   the 

184  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

papal  court  at  Avignon,  where  the  haughty,  obstin- 
ate, and  proselytizing  cardinal,  Pedro  de  Luna, 
reigned  as  anti-pope  under  the  title  of  Benedict 
XIII.  Here,  during  the  stormy  church  schism,  favor- 
able opportunities  for  intrigue  and  personal  advance- 
ment presented  themselves.  Paul  won  the  pope's 
favor  by  his  shrewdness,  zeal,  and  eloquence.  He 
was  appointed  archdeacon  of  Trevinjo  and  canon  of 
Seville,  his  first  steps  on  the  ladder  of  the  Catholic 
hierarchy.  He  abandoned  himself  to  the  most 
ambitious  dreams :  he  might  become  a  bishop,  a 
cardinal,  and  why  not  the  pope  ?  The  times  were 
propitious.  He  boasted  that  he  was  descended  from 
the  most  ancient  and  the  noblest  branch  of  the 
Hebrew  race,  the  tribe  of  Levi,  the  same  that  had 
given  birth  to  Mary,  the  mother  of  Jesus.  He  was 
not  an  ordinary  priest  sprung  from  the  people,  but 
had  ancestors  bound  to  be  acknowledged  and  dis- 
tinguished by  the  church.  On  the  recommendation 
of  the  pope,  he  was  later  on  overwhelmed  with 
honors  and  favors  by  the  king  of  Castile,  Don 
Henry  III,  and  his  ambition  was  satisfied. 

The  apostasy  of  so  respected  a  rabbi  as  Solomon 
Burgensis  not  only  created  the  greatest  astonish- 
ment among  Jews,  but  filled  them  with  anxiety. 
Would  this  example  not  find  imitators  in  a  time  of 
so  much  trouble  and  temptation  ?  Would  it  not 
bias  waverers,  or  at  least  encourage  pretending 
Christians  to  persevere  in  the  course  begun  ?  The 
prevailing  disquietude  was  increased  when  it  was 
found  that  after  his  own  conversion  Paul  considered 
it  his  duty  to  convert  his  former  co-religionists.  To 
this  end  he  left  no  stone  unturned.  With  voice  and 
pen  he  assailed  Judaism,  seeking  his  weapons  in 
Jewish  literature  itself.  Not  long  after  his  conver- 
sion he  addressed  a  letter  to  his  former  acquaint- 
ance, Joseph  (Jose)  Orabuena,  physician  in  ordinary 
to  King  Charles  III  of  Navarre,  and  chief  rabbi  of 
the  Navarrese  communities,  in  which  he  stated  that 

CH.  VI.  HIS   EFFORTS   TO   CONVERT.  1 85 

he  acknowledged  and  honored  Jesus  as  the  Messiah 
whose  advent  had  been  foretold  by  the  prophets, 
and  invited  Orabuena  to  follow  his  example.  To 
another  chief  rabbi,  Don  Meir  Alguades,  physician 
in  ordinary  to  the  Castilian  king,  Don  Henry  III, 
Paul  de  Santa  Maria  addressed  a  Hebrew  satire  in 
prose  and  verse,  in  which  he  ridiculed  the  innocent 
celebration  of  the  Jewish  feast  of  Purim.  As  if 
grudging  the  Jews  the  moderate  pleasures  in  which 
they  indulged  during  this  festival,  he  exaggerated 
their  love  of  drink,  and  boasted  of  his  own  sobriety. 
Paul  evinces  in  this  satire  considerable  skill  in 
handling  the  new-Hebrew  language,  but,  notwith- 
standing his  opportunities,  he  exhibits  little  wit. 

As  soon  as  he  had  acquired  a  position  at  the 
papal  court  at  Avignon,  he  devoted  himself  to  cal- 
umniating the  Jews  with  a  view  to  bringing  about 
new  persecutions.  His  purpose  became  so  obvious 
that  the  cardinal  of  Pampeluna  himself,  and  other 
ecclesiastics,  ordered  him  to  desist.  It  is  true  the 
Jews  had  to  pay  dearly  for  his  silence.  He  also  in- 
trigued against  Chasdai  Crescas,  So  far  did  this 
apostate  carry  his  enmity  to  Judaism  that  he  advised 
the  king,  Don  Henry  III,  to  abstain  from  employing 
both  Jews  and  new-Christians  in  state  offices.  Did 
he  wish  to  render  impossible  the  rivalry  of  some 
fellow-Hebrew,  his  superior  in  adroitness?  In  his 
writings  Paul  de  Santa  Maria  exhibited  as  much 
hatred  of  Judaism  as  of  Jews.  While  the  Francis- 
can monk,  Nicholas  de  Lyra,  a  born  Christian,  held 
up  the  works  of  Jewish  commentators  like  Rashi 
as  models  of  simple  exegesis,  the  former  rabbi 
found  every  observation  of  a  Rabbinical  writer  in- 
sipid, nonsensical,  and  scandalous.  On  the  other 
hand,  the  most  ridiculous  commentary  of  a  church 
writer  was  to  him  a  lofty,  unsurpassable  work. 

Thoughtful  Jews  were  not  slow  to  recognize  their 
bitterest  foe  in  this  new-Christian,  and  they  prepared 
for  a  severe  struggle  with  him,  notwithstanding  that 

1 86  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI, 

their  choice  of  weapons  was  limited.  Christians 
were  not  only  free  to  say  what  they  pleased  in 
demonstration  and  defense  of  their  doctrines,  but 
could  appeal  to  the  summary  authority  of  the  sword 
and  the  dungeon.  Jews  were  forced  to  all  kinds  of 
circumlocution  and  ambiguity  to  avoid  provoking 
the  violence  of  their  adversaries.  The  gallant  stand 
of  a  mere  handful  of  Jews  against  power  and 
arrogance  should  excite  the  admiration  of  all  whose 
sympathies  are  not  with  victorious  tyranny,  but  with 
struggling  right. 

The  campaign  against  Paul  de  Santa  Maria  was 
opened  by  a  young  man,  Joshua  ben  Joseph  Ibn- 
Vives  of  Lorca  ( Allorqui) ,  a  physician  and  an  Arabic 
scholar,  who  had  formerly  sat  at  the  feet  of  the  rene- 
gade rabbi.  In  an  humble  epistle,  as  though  a  docile 
pupil  were  addressing  an  illustrious  master,  Joshua 
Allorqui  administered  many  a  delicate  reproof  to 
his  apostate  teacher,  and  at  the  same  time,  by  his 
naive  doubts,  dealt  destructive  blows  at  the  funda- 
mental doctrines  of  Christianity.  He  observes  in 
his  introduction  that  the  conversion  of  his  beloved 
teacher  had  to  him  more  than  to  others  been  a  source 
of  astonishment  and  reflection,  as  his  example  had 
been  a  main  support  of  his  own  religious  belief.  He 
was  at  a  loss  to  conceive  the  motives  of  the  sudden 
change.  He  could  not  think  that  he  had  been  led 
away  by  desire  for  worldly  distinction,  "  for  I  well 
remember,"  he  says,  "how,  surrounded  by  riches 
and  attendants,  thou  didst  yearn  for  thy  former 
humble  state  with  its  life  of  retirement  and  study, 
and  how  it  was  thy  wont  to  speak  of  thy  high  posi- 
tion as  empty  mockery  of  happiness."  Nor  could 
he  suppose  that  Paul's  Jewish  convictions  had  been 
disturbed  by  philosophic  doubt,  as  up  to  the  moment 
of  his  baptism  he  had  conscientiously  observed  all 
the  ceremonial  laws,  and  had  known  how  to  discrimin- 
ate between  the  kernel  of  philosophic  truth  which 
harmonizes  with  religion  and  the  pernicious  shell 


which  SO  often  passes  for  the  real  teaching.  Could 
it  be  that  the  sanguinary  persecution  of  the  Jews 
had  led  him  to  doubt  the  possibility  of  the  enduring 
power  of  Judaism  ?  But  even  this  theory  was  un- 
tenable, for  Paul  could  not  be  unaware  of  the  fact 
that  only  a  minority  of  Jews  live  under  Christian 
rule,  that  the  larger  numbers  sojourn  in  Asia,  and 
enjoy  a  certain  degree  of  independence  ;  so  that  if 
it  pleased  God  to  allow  the  communities  in  Christian 
lands  to  be  extirpated,  the  Jewish  race  would  not  by 
any  means  disappear  from  the  face  of  the  earth. 
There  remained,  continued  Joshua  Vives  of  Lorca, 
the  assumption  that  Paul  had  carefully  studied  Chris- 
tianity, and  had  come  to  the  conclusion  that  its  dog- 
mas were  well  founded.  He  begged  him,  therefore, 
to  impart  to  him  the  convictions  at  which  he  had 
arrived,  and  thus  dissipate  the  doubts  which  he 
(Joshua)  still  entertained  as  to  the  truth  of  Christi- 
anity. Allorqui  then  detailed  the  nature  of  his 
doubts,  covertly  but  forcibly  attacking  the  Christian 
system.  Every  sentence  in  this  epistle  was  calcu- 
lated to  cut  the  Jew-hating  new-Christian  to  the 
quick.  The  evasive  and  embarrassed  reply,  which 
Paul  indited  later  on,  clearly  indicated  how  he  had 
winced  under  this  attack. 

The  philosopher,  Chasdai  Crescas,  also  came  for- 
ward in  gallant  defense  of  the  religion  of  his  fathers. 
He  composed  (1396)  a  polemical  treatise  (Tratado), 
in  which  he  tested  philosophically  the  Christian  arti- 
cles of  faith,  and  demonstrated  their  untenableness. 
This  work  was  addressed  to  Christians  more  than  to 
Jews,  and  was  particularly  intended  for  the  perusal 
of  Spaniards  of  high  rank  whose  friendship  Chasdai 
Crescas  enjoyed.  Hence  it  was  written  not  in  He- 
brew but  in  Spanish,  which  the  author  employed 
with  ease,  and  its  tone  was  calm  and  moderate. 
Chasdai  Crescas  set  forth  the  unintelligibility  of  the 
doctrines  of  the  Fall,  the  Redemption,  the  Trinity, 
the   Incarnation,  the  Immaculate  Conception,    and 

1 88  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

Transubstantiation,  and  examined  the  value  of  bap- 
tism, the  coming  of  Jesus,  and  the  relation  of  the 
New  Testament  to  the  Old,  with  dispassionate  delib- 
eration, as  if  he  did  not  know  that  he  was  dealing 
with  questions  which  might  at  any  moment  light  the 
fires  of  an  auto-da-fe. 

At  about  the  same  time  an  accomplished  Mar- 
rano,  who  had  relapsed  into  Judaism,  published  a 
pungent  attack  on  Christianity  and  the  new-Chris- 
tians. In  the  entire  history  of  Judseo-Christian  con- 
troversy no  such  stinging  satire  had  been  produced 
on  the  Jewish  side  as  that  now  issued  by  the  phy- 
sician, astronomer,  historical  student,  and  gram- 
marian Profiat  Duran.  During  the  bloody  persecu- 
tion of  1 39 1  in  Catalonia,  Profiat  Duran,  otherwise 
Isaac  ben  Moses,  or,  as  he  called  himself  in  his 
works,  Efodi  (Ephodaeus),  had  been  forced  to  sim- 
ulate conversion  to  Christianity.  He  was  joined 
by  his  friend  David  Bonet  Buen-Giorno.  Both 
resolved  at  a  convenient  opportunity  to  abandon 
their  hated  mask  and  emigrate  to  Palestine,  where 
they  could  freely  acknowledge  Judaism.  Their  af- 
fairs being  arranged,  Profiat  Duran  traveled  to  a 
seaport  town  in  the  south  of  France,  and  there 
awaited  his  friend.  The  latter,  in  the  meantime, 
was  sought  out  by  or  came  across  the  Jew-hating 
apostate,  Solomon  Paul  de  Santa  Maria,  and  was 
prevailed  upon  to  remain  a  Christian.  What  was 
Profiat  Duran's  astonishment  when  he  received  a 
letter  announcing,  with  much  exultant  vaporing,  the 
definite  acknowledgment  of  Christianity  by  En 
Bonet,  who  exhorted  him  also  to  remain  in  the  pale 
of  his  adopted  faith.  The  letter  contained  an  en- 
thusiastic panegyric  of  Paul  de  Santa  Maria,  who 
had  been  taken  into  the  favor  of  the  king  of  Castile. 
Profiat  Duran  could  not  remain  silent.  In  reply,  he 
inflicted  punishment  on  his  friend,  and  more  par- 
ticularly on  the  proselytizing  Paul,  in  an  epistle 
characterized  by  the  keenest  irony,  which  has  not 


yet  lost  its  sting.  It  pretends  to  assent  to  every- 
thing advanced  by  Bonet,  and  to  confirm  him  in  his 
resolve  to  remain  a  Christian,  "  Be  not  ye  like 
your  fathers"  (Altehi  ka-Abothecha)  is  the  refrain 
throughout,  and  so  artfully  is  this  admonition  em- 
ployed that  Christians  used  it  (under  the  title  Alteca 
Boteca)  as  an  apology  for  Christianity.  Whilst 
thus  pretending  to  criticise  the  errors  of  the  older 
faith,  Profiat  Duran  dwells  on  the  Christian  dogmas, 
naively  describing  them  in  their  most  reprehensible 
form.  He  concentrates  on  the  weaknesses  of  Chris- 
tianity the  full  light  of  reason,  Scriptural  teaching 
and  philosophic  deduction,  apparently  with  no  de- 
sire to  change  his  friend's  intention.  A  portion  of 
the  satire  is  directed  against  the  Jew-hater  Paul  de 
Santa  Maria,  upon  whom  Bonet  had  bestowed  un- 
stinted praise.  "Thou  art  of  opinion  that  he  may 
succeed  in  becoming  pope,  but  thou  dost  not  inform 
me  whether  he  will  go  to  Rome,  or  remain  at  Avig- 
non " — a  cutting  reference  to  the  papal  schism  dis- 
tractingr  the  church.  "  Thou  extollest  him  for  havingr 
made  efforts  to  free  Jewish  women  and  children 
from  the  obligation  of  wearing  the  Jew  badge. 
Take  the  glad  tidings  to  the  women  and  children. 
For  myself,  I  have  been  told  that  he  preached  mis- 
chief against  the  Jews,  and  that  the  cardinal  of 
Pampeluna  was  compelled  to  order  him  to  be  silent. 
Thou  art  of  opinion  that  he,  thy  teacher,  will  soon 
receive  the  miter  or  a  cardinal's  hat.  Rejoice,  for 
then  thou  also  must  acquire  honors,  and  wilt  be- 
come a  priest  or  a  Levite."  Towards  the  end  Pro- 
fiat  Duran  changes  irony  into  a  tone  of  seriousness  : 
he  prays  his  former  friend  not  to  bear  as  a  Chris- 
tian the  name  of  his  respected  father  who,  had  he 
been  alive,  would  sooner  have  had  no  son  than  one 
faithless  to  his  religion.  As  it  is,  his  soul  in  Para- 
dise will  bewail  the  faithlessness  of  his  son.  This 
satirical  epistle  was  circulated  as  a  pamphlet.  Its 
author  sent  copies  not  only  to  his  former  friend,  but 


also  to  the  physician  of  the  king  of  Castile,  the  chief 
rabbi,  Don  Meir  Alguades.  So  telling  was  the 
effect  produced,  that  the  clergy,  as  soon  as  they  dis- 
covered its  satirical  character,  made  it  the  subject 
of  judicial  inquiry,  and  committed  it  to  the  flames. 
At  the  request  of  Chasdai  Crescas,  Profiat  Duran 
wrote  another  anti-Christian  work,  not,  however,  a 
satire,  but  in  the  grave  language  of  historical  inves- 
tigation. In  this  essay  he  showed,  from  his  intimate 
acquaintance  with  the  New  Testament  and  the  lit- 
erature of  the  church,  how  in  course  of  time  Chris- 
tianity had  degenerated. 

Favored  and  promoted  by  the  anti-pope,  Bene- 
dict XIII,  of  Avignon,  Paul  of  Burgos  rose  higher 
and  higher;  he  became  bishop  of  Carthagena,  chan- 
cellor of  Castile  and  privy  counselor  to  the  king, 
Don  Henry  III.  His  malice  did  not  succeed  in 
prejudicing  the  king  against  the  Jews,  or  inducing 
him  to  bar  them  from  state  employment.  Don 
Henry  had  two  Jewish  physicians,  in  whom  he 
reposed  especial  confidence.  One,  Don  Meir  Al- 
guades, an  astronomer  and  philosopher,  he  ap- 
pointed, perhaps  in  imitation  of  Portugal,  to  the 
chief  rabbinate  of  the  various  Castilian  communities. 
He  was  always  in  the  king's  train,  and  it  is  probable 
that  to  some  extent  he  influenced  him  favorably 
towards  his  co-religionists.  The  other  was  Don 
Moses  Zarzel  (^argal),  who  celebrated  in  rich 
Spanish  verse  the  long  wished  for  birth  of  an  heir 
to  the  Castilian  throne,  borrowing  the  beauties  of  the 
neo-Hebraic  poetry  to  do  honor  to  the  newly-born 
prince,  in  whose  hands,  he  prophesied,  the  various 
states  of  the  Pyrenean  Peninsula  would  be  united. 
The  calm,  as  between  two  storms,  which  the  Spanish 
Jews  enjoyed  during  the  reign  of  Don  Henry  was 
favorable  to  the  production  of  a  few  literary  fruits, 
almost  the  last  of  any  importance  brought  forth  in 
Spain.  None  of  these  works  was  epoch-making; 
they  were   useful,  however,  in   keeping  alive   the 


spirit  of  better  times,  and  in  preventing  the  treas- 
ures of  Jewish  literature  from  being  forgotten. 
Profiat  Duran  managed  to  make  people  forget  his 
baptism  and  to  setde  down  quietly  in  Spain  or 
Perpignan,  where  he  commentated  Maimuni's  phil- 
osophy, and  some  of  Ibn-Ezra's  works.  He  also 
composed  a  mathematical  and  calendarial  essay 
(Chesheb-Efod)  and  an  historical  account  of  the  per- 
secutions to  which  his  race  had  been  subjected  since 
the  dispersion.  His  best  work  is  a  Hebrew  gram- 
mar ("  Maase  Efod,"  written  about  1403),  in  which 
he  summarizes  the  results  of  older  writers,  rectifies 
their  errors,  and  even  attempts  to  formulate  the 
principles  of  Hebrew  syntax. 

A  production  of  more  than  common  merit  was 
written  by  Chasdai  Crescas,  now  on  the  brink  of  the 
grave,  his  spirits  shattered  by  persecution.  He  was 
a  profound,  comprehensive  thinker,  whose  mind 
never  lost  itself  in  details,  but  was  forever  striving 
to  comprehend  the  totality  of  things.  His  scheme 
for  a  work  treating,  in  the  manner  of  Maimuni,  of 
all  phases  and  aspects  of  Judaism,  investigating  the 
ideas  and  laws  out  of  which  Jewish  teaching  had 
gradually  developed,  and  reharmonizing  the  details 
with  the  whole  where  the  connection  had  ceased  to 
be  apparent,  bears  witness  to  the  extraordinary 
range  of  his  learning  and  the  perspicacity  of  his  mind. 
The  work  was  to  be  at  once  a  guide  to  Talmudical 
study  and  a  practical  handbook.  Death  appears 
to  have  prevented  the  accomplishment  of  this  gi- 
gantic enterprise,  only  the  philosophic  portion,  or 
introduction,  being  completed.  In  this  introduction 
Chasdai  Crescas  deals,  on  the  one  hand,  with  the 
principles  of  universal  religion,  the  existence  of  God, 
His  omniscience  and  providence,  human  free-will, 
the  design  of  the  universe,  and,  on  the  other,  with 
the  fundamental  truths  of  Judaism,  the  doctrines  of 
the  creation,  immortality,  and  the  Messiah. 

Crescas  was  less  dominated  by  the  Aristotelian 


bias  of  mediseval  philosophy  than  his  predecessors. 
It  had  lost  its  halo  for  him  ;  he  perceived  its  weak- 
nesses more  clearly  than  others,  and  probed  them 
more  deeply.  With  bold  hands  he  tore  down  the 
supports  of  the  vast  edifice  of  theory  constructed  by 
Maimuni  on  Aristotelian  grounds  to  demonstrate 
the  existence  of  God  and  His  relation  to  the  uni- 
verse, and,  conversant  with  the  whole  method  of 
scholastic  philosophy,  he  combated  it  with  destruct- 
ive force. 

While  the  philosophy  of  his  day  appeared  to  him 
thus  vague  and  illusory,  he  considered  the  founda- 
tions of  Judaism  unassailable,  and  set  himself  to 
show  the  futility  of  the  criticisms  of  the  former. 
The  acknowledgment  of  Divine  omniscience  led 
him  to  the  daring  statement  that  man  in  his  actions 
is  not  quite  free,  that  everything  is  the  necessary 
result  of  a  preceding  occurrence,  and  that  every 
cause,  back  to  the  very  first,  is  bound  to  deter- 
mine the  character  of  the  final  action.  The  human 
will  does  not  follow  blind  choice,  but  is  con- 
trolled by  a  chain  of  antecedent  circumstances  and 
causes.  To  what  extent  can  the  doctrine  of  reward 
and  punishment  be  admitted,  if  the  will  is  not 
free?  Chasdai  Crescas'  answer  to  this  is  that 
reward  and  punishment  wait  on  intentions,  not  on 
actions.  He  who,  in  purity  of  heart,  wishes  to 
accomplish  good — which  must,  of  course,  necessarily 
follow — deserves  to  be  rewarded,  as  the  man  who 
willingly  promotes  evil,  deserves  punishment.  The 
highest  good  to  which  man  can  aspire,  and  the  end 
of  all  creation,  is  spiritual  perfection,  or  bliss  ever- 
lasting, not  to  be  obtained,  as  the  philosophers 
imagine,  by  filling  the  mind  with  metaphysical  theo- 
ries, but  only  through  the  active  love  of  God.  This 
is  the  substance  of  all  religion  and  particularly  of 
Judaism.  From  this  point  of  view  it  may  with 
justice  be  said  that  "  the  world  was  created  for  the 
sake  of  the  Torah,"  for  the  aim  of  the  Law  is  to 

CH.  VI.  DON   MEIR   ALGUADES.  1 93 

lead  to  immortality  by  means  of  ideas  and  com- 
mandments and  the  guidance  of  thoughts  and 

Chasdai  Crescas,  the  first  to  distinguish  between 
universal  religion  and  specific  forms,  such  as  Juda- 
ism and  Christianity,  propounded,  deviating  from 
Maimuni's  system,  only  eight  peculiarly  Jewish 
tenets.  His  just  objection  to  Maimuni's  thirteen 
articles  of  faith  was  that  they  were  either  too  many 
or  too  few,  inasmuch  as  they  blended  indiscriminately 
fundamental  truths  common  to  all  religions,  and 
teachings  peculiar  to  Judaism. 

Together  with  Profiat  Duran  and  Chasdai  Cres- 
cas, Don  Meir  Alguades,  the  Castilian  chief  rabbi, 
appeared,  in  the  brief  interval  between  two  bloody 
persecutions  in  Spain,  as  a  writer  of  philosophic 
works.  He  was  not  an  independent  inquirer;  he 
merely  translated  the  ethics  of  Aristotle  (1405,  in 
collaboration  with  Benveniste  Ibn-Labi)  into  He- 
brew, making  the  work  accessible  to  Jews,  who,  in 
practical  life,  lived  up  to  its  principles  better  than 
the  Greeks,  who  produced  them,  or  the  Christians, 
who,  in  the  pride  of  faith  and  church  doctrine,  con- 
sidered themselves  above  the  necessity  of  conform- 
ing to  the  requirements  of  morality. 

Throughout  the  reign  of  Don  Henry  III  of  Cas- 
tile the  life  of  the  Jews  was  tolerable.  The  young 
but  vigorous  monarch  severely  punished  Fernan 
Martinez,  the  primemoverin  the  massacres  of  1391, 
as  a  warning  against  further  excesses.  He  per- 
mitted the  Jews  to  acquire  land,  renewed  the  law  of 
his  ancestor,  Alfonso  XI,  and  relieved  his  Jewish 
tax-farmers  and  finance  administrators  from  restric- 
tions. As  soon  as  he  died  (the  end  of  1406)  the 
affairs  of  the  Jews  again  took  an  unfavorable  turn, 
foreshadowing  unhappy  times.  The  heir  to  the 
crown,  Juan  II,  was  a  child,  barely  two  years  old. 
The  regency  devolved  on  the  queen-mother,  Cata- 
lina  (Catherine)  of  Lancaster,  a  capricious,  arrogant 


and  bigoted  young  woman,  who  imagined  that  she 
ruled,  while  she  was  herself  ruled  by  her  various 
favorites.  The  co-regent,  Don  Ferdinand,  later 
king  of  Aragon,  who  was  intelligent  and  kind, 
allowed  himself  to  be  guided  by  the  clergy.  By  his 
side  in  the  council  of  state  sat  the  apostate  rabbi, 
Solomon  alias  Paul  de  Santa  Maria,  another  and 
more  mischievous  Elisha-Acher,  in  whose  eyes 
Judaism  was  an  abomination,  and  every  Jew  a 
stumbling-block.  The  deceased  king,  Don  Henry 
III,  had  appointed  him  executor  of  his  will  and  tutor 
to  his  heir ;  he  consequently  had  an  influential  voice 
in  the  council  of  the  regency.  What  a  prospect  for 
the  Jews  of  Castile !  It  was  not  long  before  they  were 
made  to  feel  the  hostile  spirit  of  the  court.  First  it 
exhibited  itself  in  attempts  to  humiliate  the  more 
notable  Jews  who  had  intercourse  with  the  court 
circle  and  the  grandees  of  the  kingdom,  and  occu- 
pied positions  of  distinction.  The  intention  was  to 
dismiss  them  from  these  positions  with  the  reminder 
that  they  belonged  to  a  despised  caste. 

An  edict  was  issued  (October  25th,  1408),  in  the 
name  of  the  infant  king,  reviving  the  anti-Jewish 
statutes  of  the  code  of  Alfonso  the  Wise.  "Whereas 
the  exercise  of  authority  by  Jews  may  conduce  to 
the  prejudice  of  the  Christian  faith,"  their  occupa- 
tion of  posts  in  which  they  might  possess  such  au- 
thority was  forbidden  for  all  future  time.  Every  Jew 
permitting  himself  to  be  invested  with  official  func- 
tions, either  by  a  nobleman  or  a  municipality,  was  to 
be  fined  twice  the  amount  of  the  revenue  of  such 
post,  and,  if  his  fortune  did  not  suffice  to  make  up 
the  required  amount,  it  would  be  confiscated,  and 
the  delinquent  become  liable  to  a  punishment  of 
fifty  lashes.  A  Christian  appointing  a  Jew  to  a  post 
of  influence  would  also  be  punished  with  a  fine.  To 
insure  the  working  of  the  edict,  it  was  enacted  that 
the  informer  and  the  court  of  law  concerned  in  a 
case  should  secure  each  one-third  of  the  confiscated 

CH.  VI.       ARREST  OF  DON  MEfR  ALGUADES.         I95 

estates.  Officials  were  charged  to  make  the  edict 
known  everywhere,  and  carefully  to  watch  that  its 
injunctions  were  carried  out.  It  is  impossible  not 
to  suspect  the  hand  of  Paul  de  Santa  Maria  in  this 
decree.  No  one  knew  better  than  he  the  strong  and 
the  weak  points  in  the  character  of  the  Spanish  Jews, 
and  he  doubtless  calculated  that  Jewish  notables,  in 
danger  of  losing  their  official  employment  and  high 
social  position,  would  go  over  to  Christianity,  while 
the  faithful,  excluded  from  intercourse  with  Christian 
society  and  from  participation  in  the  public  life  of 
the  country,  would  suffer  a  decline  similar  to  that  of 
the  German  Jews. 

At  the  same  time  he  vented  his  hate  on  Meir  Al- 
guades,  the  physician  of  the  dead  king.  The  queen- 
regent  had  no  cause  to  injure  this  Jewish  notable; 
only  Paul  could  desire  his  ruin,  because  he  was  the 
mainstay  of  his  opponents  and  the  leader  of  those 
who  held  him  up  to  contempt.  With  the  object  of 
procuring  his  downfall,  a  vindictive  accusation  was 
trumped  up  against  him.  While  the  queen-mother, 
with  the  infant  king,  was  staying  at  Segovia,  some 
priests  charged  a  Jew  of  the  town  with  having  bought 
a  consecrated  host  from  the  sacristan,  in  order  to 
blaspheme  it.  They  further  stated  that  the  holy 
wafer  had  worked  such  terrible  wonders  while  in  the 
possession  of  the  Jew,  that  in  fear  and  trembling  he 
had  delivered  it  up  to  the  prior  of  a  monastery. 
Whether  this  story  was  fabricated,  or  whether  there 
was  a  grain  of  truth  in  a  bushel  of  fiction,  it  is  im- 
possible to  say ;  it  sufficed,  however,  to  attract  the 
serious  attention  of  the  bishop.  Velasquez  de  Tor- 
desillas,  who  caused  a  number  of  Jews  to  be 
arrested  as  accomplices  in  the  crime,  among  them 
Don  Meir  Alguades,  Criminal  proceedings  were 
formally  commenced  by  order  of  the  queen-regent, 
and  Alguades  and  his  fellow-prisoners  were  sub- 
jected to  torture,  and  confessed  their  guilt.  It  is 
stated  that  in  his  agony  Meir  Alguades  made  a  con- 


fession  of  another  kind — that  the  king,  Henry  III, 
had  come  by  his  death  at  his  hands.  Although 
everybody  knew  that  the  king  had  been  ailing  from 
his  youth,  Don  Meir — who  must  have  been  specially 
interrogated  while  under  torture  as  to  whether  he 
had  poisoned  the  king — was  put  to  death  in  the 
most  inhuman  manner.  He  wao  torn  limb  from 
limb.  The  same  fate  befell  the  other  prisoners. 
Still  not  satisfied,  the  bishop  of  Segovia  accused 
some  Jews  of  having  bribed  his  cook  to  poison  his 
food,  and  they  also  were  put  to  death.  At  about 
this  time  one  of  the  synagogues  in  Segovia  was 
transformed  into  a  church. 

The  troubled  times,  projecting  shadows  of  a  still 
more  unhappy  future,  produced  the  melancholy 
phenomenon  of  another  Messianic  frenzy.  Again 
it  arose  in  the  minds  of  mystics.  The  Zohar  having 
adroitly  been  raised  to  the  dignity  of  an  approved 
authority,  the  Kabbala  daily  acquired  more  influ- 
ence, although  it  was  not  studied  in  proportion  to 
the  zeal  with  which  its  authority  was  advocated. 
Three  Kabbalists  were  particularly  active  in  exciting 
the  emotions  and  turning  the  heads  of  the  people — 
Abraham  of  Granada,  Shem  Tob  ben  Joseph,  and 
Moses  Botarel.  The  first  composed  (between  1391 
and  1409)  a  Kabbalistic  work,  a  farrago  of  strange 
names  of  the  Deity  and  the  angels,  of  transposed 
letters,  and  jugglery  with  vowels  and  accents. 
Abraham  of  Granada  had  the  hardihood  to  teach 
that  those  who  could  not  apprehend  God  by  Kab- 
balistic methods  belonged  to  the  weak  in  faith,  were 
ignorant  sinners,  and  like  the  depraved  and  the 
apostate  were  overlooked  by  God,  and  not  found 
worthy  of  His  special  providence.  He  thought  that 
the  relinquishment  of  their  religion  by  cultured  Jews 
was  explained  by  their  fatal  application  to  scientific 
study,  and  their  contempt  for  the  Kabbala.  On  the 
other  hand,  he  professed  to  see  in  the  persecutions 
of  1 391,  and  in  the  conversion  of  so  many  prominent 


Jews  to  Christianity,  the  tokens  of  the  Messianic 
age,  the  suffering  that  must  precede  it,  and  the  ap- 
proach of  the  redemption.  Shem  Tob  ben  Joseph 
Ibn-Shem  Tob  (died  1430)  accused  the  Jewish 
philosophers,  Maimuni,  Gersonides,  and  others,  of 
seducing  the  people  to  heresy  and  infidelity,  and  with 
being  the  real  cause  of  apostasy  in  troubled  times. 
In  a  work  entitled  "  Emunoth "  he  made  violent 
attacks  on  Jewish  thinkers  and  philosophic  studies 
generally,  and  taught  that  the  salvation  of  Israel  lies 
in  the  Kabbala,  the  oldest  Jewish  tradition,  and  the 
genuine,  pure  truth.  The  entire  book  is  composed 
of  grave  charges  against  the  more  enlightened 
school  of  Jewish  thinkers,  and  panegyrics  of  Kab- 
balistic  nonsense. 

These  two  men,  Abraham  of  Granada  and  Shem 
Tob,  though  narrow-minded,  were  sincere,  differing 
in  this  respect  from  Moses  Botarel  (or  Botarelo), 
also  a  Spaniard,  from  Cisneros,  in  Castile,  who  pur- 
sued his  course  with  fraudulent  intent.  He  g^ave 
out  that  he  was  a  thaumaturge  and  prophet ;  he  an- 
nounced himself  even  as  the  Messiah.  He  prophe- 
sied that  in  the  spring  month  of  1393  the  Messianic 
age  would  be  ushered  in  by  extraordinary  marvels. 
Later  on  he  wrote  a  work  full  of  lies  and  delusions. 
In  his  pride  andboastfulness,  he  addressed  a  circular 
letter  to  all  the  rabbis  of  Israel,  declaring  that  he 
was  in  a  position  to  solve  all  doubts,  and  throw 
light  on  all  mysteries,  that  he  was  the  chief  of  the 
great  Synhedrin,  and  a  great  deal  more  in  the  same 
charlatan ic  strain. 

As  in  the  days  of  the  oppression  by  the  Visigothic 
kings,  an  asylum  for  persecuted  Jews  was  formed 
>  on  that  portion  of  the  African  coast  facing  Spain. 
Many  of  the  north  African  towns,  such  as  Algiers, 
Miliana,  Constantine,  Buja,  Oran,  Tenes,  and  Tlem- 
gen,  were  filled  with  Jews  fleeing  from  the  massa- 
cres of  1 39 1,  and  with  new-Christians  anxious  to 
get  rid  of  the   Christianity  which  they  had  been 

iqS  history  of  the  jews.  CH.  VI. 

forced  to  embrace,  but  which  they  hated  cordially. 
Almost  daily  there  came  fresh  troops  of  refugees 
from  all  parts  of  Spain  and  Majorca.  They  trans- 
planted to  their  new  fatherland  their  intelligence, 
wealth,  industry,  and  commercial  enterprise.  The 
Mahometan  Berber  princes,  then  more  tolerant  and 
humane  than  the  Christians,  received  them  without 
imposing  a  poll  tax.  At  first  the  Mahometan  popu- 
lation grumbled  a  little  at  so  sudden  and  considera- 
ble an  increase  in  the  number  of  inhabitants,  fearing 
that  the  price  of  provisions  would  be  raised.  When, 
however,  the  narrow-mindedness  and  selfishness  of 
their  complaints  were  pointed  out  to  them  by  an 
intelligent  kadi  they  were  satisfied,  and  the  Jews 
were  allowed  to  settle  in  their  midst  in  peace.  The 
small  Berber  communities  formed  since  the  cessa- 
tion of  the  Almohade  persecution  a  century  before, 
acquired  greater  importance  through  this  immi- 
gration. The  new-comers  preponderated  in  numbers 
over  the  native  Jews,  so  that  the  latter,  to  a  certain 
extent,  were  forced  to  adopt  the  Spanish  communal 
organization  and  the  Sephardic  ritual.  The  Span- 
iards, in  fact,  became  the  leading  element  in  the  old 
African  communities. 

The  distinguished  rabbi,  Isaac  ben  Sheshet-Barfat, 
who  had  escaped  from  Spain  and  settled  in  Algiers, 
was  recognized  by  the  king  of  Tlemgen  as  chief 
rabbi  and  judge  of  all  the  communities.  This  he 
owed  to  the  influence  of  one  of  his  admirers,  Saul 
Astruc  Cohen,  a  popular  physician  and  an  accom- 
plished man,  who  not  only  practiced  his  art  gratui- 
tously, but  spent  his  fortune  in  relieving  both 
Mahometan  and  Jewish  poor.  In  the  name  of  the 
king  the  local  rabbis  were  forbidden  to  assume  cler- 
ical or  judicial  functions  without  the  authority  of  the 
chief  rabbi,  Isaac  ben  Sheshet.  This  in  no  way 
detracted  from  the  esteem  in  which  Ben  Sheshet 
was  held,  and  applications  for  the  decision  of  diffi- 
cult questions  continued  to  pour  in  upon  him.     In 


Algiers  he  continued  to  oppose  wrong-doing  with 
the  conscientiousness  and  impartiaHty  that  had 
always  characterized  him.  Among  the  members  of 
his  community  was  a  mischievous  personage  (Isaac 
Bonastruc?),  who  had  considerable  influence  with 
the  Algerian  authorities.  Actuated  by  self-interest 
he  was  desirous  of  stopping  the  daily  increasing 
immigration  of  Marranos,  and  to  this  end  persuaded 
the  kadi  to  impose  a  tax  of  one  doubloon  on  every 
immigrant.  Finding  that  troops  of  fugitives  con- 
tinued to  arrive,  he  set  himself  to  work  upon  the 
selfishness  of  the  community,  so  that  they  might 
oppose  any  further  influx  of  their  brethren.  Fifty- 
five  new-Christians,  who  had  recanted,  from  Valencia, 
Barcelona,  and  Majorca,  were  waiting  to  land  in  the 
harbor  of  Algiers,  but  were  refused  permission  by 
Jews.  This  was  tantamount  to  throwing  them  on  the 
mercy  of  Christian  executioners.  Such  selfishness 
and  injustice  the  chief  rabbi,  Isaac  ben  Sheshet,  could 
not  tolerate,  and  he  laid  the  ban  on  the  heartless  Jews, 
who  tried  to  escape  the  punishment.  So  determined 
was  his  attitude  that,  with  the  assistance  of  Astruc 
Cohen  and  his  brother,  the  Marranos  were  ultim- 
ately brought  safe  to  land.  In  Africa  Ben  Sheshet- 
Barfat  worked  for  nearly  twenty  years,  promoting 
the  welfare  of  his  co-religionists  and  the  interests  of 
religion  and  morality.  His  declining  years  were 
embittered  by  the  persistent  attacks  of  a  young  rabbi, 
Simon  ben  Zemach  Duran,  an  able  Talmudist,  who 
had  emigrated  from  Majorca. 

Ben  Sheshet  was  succeeded  on  his  death  by  Simon 
Duran  (born  1361,  died  1444).  The  community  of 
Algiers  elected  him  on  condition  that  he  did  not  seek 
a  ratification  of  his  appointment  from  the  king,  prob- 
ably because  the  authority  derived  by  his  predeces- 
sor from  the  royal  confirmation  had  been  too  uncon- 
trolled. Simon  Duran,  an  accomplished  mathema- 
tician and  physician,  was  the  first  Spanish-Jewish 
rabbi  to  take  pay.     He  publicly  excused  himself 

200  HISTORY    OF   THE   JFAVS.  CH.  VI. 

for  doing  so,  on  the  ground  of  his  necessitous  cir- 
cumstances. During  the  persecutions  in  Majorca  a 
portion  of  his  large  fortune  had  been  lost,  and  the 
remainder  had  been  sacrificed  in  bribing  the  inform- 
ers who  threatened  to  dehver  him  as  a  Judaizing 
Christian  to  the  Dominican  Moloch.  He  had  arrived 
in  Algiers  almost  a  beggar,  and  the  healing  art,  by 
which  he  had  hoped  to  earn  a  subsistence,  had 
brought  him  nothing,  physicians  enjoying  but  little 
consideration  among  the  Berbers.  Subsequently 
Simon  Duran  justified  the  payment  of  rabbis  from 
the  Talmud.  Were  the  abbots,  bishops,  and  princes 
of  the  church  equally  conscientious? 

As  if  the  Jews  of  Spain  had  not  had  enough  ene- 
mies in  the  poor,  indolent  burghers  and  nobles,  who 
regarded  their  opulence  with  so  much  jealousy,  in 
the  clergy,  who  cloaked  their  immorality  with  zeal 
for  the  propaganda  of  the  faith,  or  in  the  upstart 
converts,  who  sought  to  disguise  their  Jewish  origin 
by  a  show  of  hatred  of  their  former  brethren,  there 
arose  at  about  the  beginning  of  the  fifteenth  century 
three  new  Jew-haters  of  the  bitterest,  most  implac- 
able type.  One  was  a  baptized  Jew,  another  a  Do- 
minican friar,  and  the  third  an  abandoned  anti-pope. 
On  these  three  men,  Joshua  Lorqui,  Fra  Vincent 
Ferrer,  and  Pedro  de  Luna,  or  Benedict  XIII,  the 
responsibility  must  rest  for  the  events  which  directly 
conduced  to  the  most  terrible  tragedy  in  the  history 
of  the  Jews  of  Spain.  Joshua  Lorqui  of  Lorca  as- 
sumed on  his  baptism  the  name  Geronimo  de  Santa 
Fe,  became  physician  in  ordinary  to  the  Avignon 
pope,  Benedict,  and,  like  his  teacher,  Solomon-Paul 
de  Santa  Maria,  considered  it  his  mission  in  life  to 
draw  his  former  brethren  over  to  Christianity  by 
every  possible  means,  Vincent  Ferrer,  afterwards 
canonized,  was  one  of  those  gloomy  natures  to  whom 
the  world  appears  a  vale  of  tears,  and  who  would 
wish  to  make  it  one.  In  saint-like  virtue,  indeed,  he 
stood  alone  among  the  clergy  and  monks  of  his  day. 


The  pleasures  of  life  had  no  charm  for  him  ;  for  gold 
and  worldly  distinction  he  thirsted  not ;  he  was  pene- 
trated with  true  humility,  and  entered  on  his  work 
with  earnestness.  Unfortunately,  the  degeneracy 
and  foulness  of  society  had  impressed  him  with  the 
fantastic  idea  that  the  end  of  the  world  was  at  hand, 
and  that  mankind  could  be  saved  only  by  adopting 
the  Christian  faith  and  a  monastic  mode  of  life. 
Vincent  Ferrer  consequently  revived  flagellation. 
He  marched  through  the  land  with  a  troop  of  fanat- 
ics who  scourged  their  naked  bodies  with  knotted 
cords,  and  incited  the  masses  to  adopt  the  same  form 
of  penance,  believing  that  it  would  bring  about  the 
salvation  of  the  world.  Gifted  with  a  sympathetic 
voice,  an  agreeable  manner,  and  considerable  elo- 
quence, this  Dominican  friar  soon  obtained  ascend- 
ancy over  the  public  mind.  When  amid  sobs  he 
recalled  the  sufferings  of  Jesus,  and  depicted  the 
approaching  end  of  the  world,  the  emotions  of  his 
auditors  became  violently  agitated,  and  he  could  lead 
them  to  good  or  to  evil.  He  had  given  up  a  high 
position  at  the  papal  court  to  lead  the  life  of  a  flag- 
ellant and  barefooted  friar.  This  helped  to  increase 
the  number  of  his  admirers  and  disciples,  for  renun- 
ciation of  position  and  wealth  on  the  part  of  an  ec- 
clesiatic  was  without  parallel.  Ferrer,  however, 
abused  his  power  by  the  promotion  of  sanguinary 
deeds.  He  directed  his  fanatical  denunciations  not 
only  against  Jews  and  heretics,  but  even  against 
friends  who  had  helped  to  raise  him  from  the  dust. 
The  terrible  demoralization  of  the  church  is  illus- 
trated in  this  monk.  The  wrangling  of  three  con- 
temporary popes,  each  declaring  himself  to  be  the 
vicegerent  of  God,  one  of  whom,  John  XXIII  (1410 
— 1 41 5),  had  exhausted  the  catalogue  of  vices  and 
deadly  sins,  a  pirate,  a  trafficker  in  indulgences,  an 
assassin,  and  a  debauchee — all  this  did  not  so  strik- 
ingly indicate  the  prevailing  degeneracy  as  the  fanat- 
ical excesses  of  one  really  pure,  moral  nature  like 

202  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

Vincent  Ferrer.  The  dove  had  become  transformed 
into  a  venomous  snake,  the  lamb  into  a  rapacious 
beast.  So  much  viciousness  cannot  be  spontaneous 
in  human  character,  in  the  adherents  of  Christianity; 
it  must  have  been  derived  from  the  Christian  teach- 
inor  itself. 

Unlike  Wycline  and  other  reformers,  Ferrer  did 
not  raise  his  voice  against  the  shortcomings  of  the 
church,  but  devoted  himself  to  Jews  and  heretics, 
whom  he  hated  as  adversaries  of  Christianity  and 
opponents  of  the  infallibility  of  the  pope.  With  pen 
and  voice  he  opened  a  crusade  against  Jews,  which 
he  sustained  for  several  years.  His  most  vehement 
invective  was  aimed  at  the  Spanish  new-Christians, 
who  during  the  massacres  of  1391  had  gone  over  to 
the  church,  but  still  largely  conformed  to  Judaism. 
Partly  from  fear  of  incurring  the  severe  punishment 
attaching  to  apostasy,  partly  won  over  by  the  fiery 
eloquence  of  the  preacher,  the  Marranos  made  a 
contrite  confession  of  faith,  which  Ferrer  regarded 
as  a  great  victory  for  the  church,  a  triumph  for  the 
truths  of  Christianity,  leading  him  to  hope  that  the 
conversion  of  the  entire  body  of  Jews  might  be 
vouchsafed  to  him.  By  his  influence  with  the  people, 
who  honored  him  as  a  saint,  he  was  very  useful  to 
the  kings  of  Spain  in  putting  down  popular  risings 
durinof  the  civil  wars  without  bloodshed.  Encour- 
aged  by  the  consideration  of  the  Castilian  royal 
family,  Ferrer  craved  permission  not  only  to  preach 
in  the  synagogues  and  mosques,  but  to  force  Jews 
and  Mahometans  to  listen  to  his  addresses.  A  cru- 
cifix in  one  arm,  the  Torah  in  the  other,  escorted  by 
flagellants  and  spearmen,  he  called  upon  the  Jews, 
"  with  a  terrible  voice,"  to  enrol  themselves  under 
the  cross. 

Seraphic  as  he  was,  Vincent  Ferrer  was  not  averse 
to  the  employment  of  force.  He  represented  to  the 
Spanish  rulers  that  the  Jews  should  be  strictly 
isolated,  as  their  intercourse  with  the  Christian  pop- 


ulation  was  calculated  to  injure  the  true  faith.  His 
suggestions  met  with  too  ready  a  response.  Through 
him  and  the  other  two  conversionists,  unspeakable 
sorrows  were  brought  upon  the  Spanish  Jews ; 
indeed,  the  years  from  141 2  to  141 5  may  be  reck- 
oned among  the  saddest  in  the  sorrowful  history  of 
the  Jewish  people.  Shortly  after  Ferrer's  appear- 
ance at  the  most  Christian  court,  the  regent  Donna 
Catalina,  the  Infante  Don  Ferdinand,  and  the  apos- 
tate Paul  Burgensis  de  Santa  Maria,  in  the  name  of 
the  child-king,  Juan  II,  issued  an  edict  of  twenty-four 
articles  (January  12th,  141 2),  the  aim  of  which  was 
to  impoverish  and  humiliate  the  Jews,  and  reduce 
them  to  the  lowest  grade  in  the  social  scale.  It 
ordered  that  they  should  live  in  special  Jew-quarters 
(Juderias),  provided  with  not  more  than  one  gate 
each,  under  pain  of  confiscation  of  fortune  and  per- 
sonal chastisement.  No  handicraft  was  to  be  exer- 
cised by  them  ;  they  were  not  to  practice  the  heal- 
ing art,  nor  transact  business  with  Christians.  It 
goes  without  saying  that  they  were  forbidden  to  hire 
Christian  servants  and  fill  public  offices.  Their 
judicial  autonomy  was  abolished,  not  only  in  criminal 
cases,  in  which  they  had  long  ceased  to  exercise  it, 
but  also  in  civil  disputes.  The  edict  prescribed  a 
special  costume  for  the  Jews.  Both  men  and  women 
were  to  wear  long  garments,  in  the  case  of  males,  of 
coarse  stuffs.  Whoever  dressed  in  the  national  cos- 
tume, or  in  fine  materials,  became  liable  to  a  heavy 
fine  ;  on  a  repetition  of  the  offense,  to  corporal  pun- 
ishment and  confiscation  of  property.  The  wearing 
of  the  red  Jew  badge  was,  of  course,  insisted  upon. 
Males  were  prohibited  from  shaving  the  beard  or 
cutting  the  hair  under  pain  of  one  hundred  lashes. 
No  Jew  was  to  be  addressed,  either  in  conversation 
or  in  writing,  by  the  title  "  Don,"  to  the  infringe- 
ment of  which  a  heavy  fine  was  also  attached.  They 
were  interdicted  from  carrying  weapons,  and  might 
no  longer  move  from  town  to  town,  but  were  to  be 


fixed  to  one  place  of  abode.  The  Jew  detected  in 
an  evasion  of  the  latter  restriction  was  to  lose  his 
entire  property,  and  be  made  a  bondman  of  the 
king.  Grandees  and  burghers  were  sternly 
enjoined  to  afford  not  the  slightest  protection  to 

It  is  not  unwarrantable  to  assume  the  influence  of 
the  apostate  Paul  de  Santa  Maria  in  the  details  of 
these  Jew-hating  laws.  They  singled  out  the  most 
sensitive  features  of  the  Jewish  character,  pride  and 
sense  of  honor.  Wealthy  Jews,  in  the  habit  of  ap- 
pearing in  magnificent  attire  and  with  smoothly- 
shaven  chins,  were  now  to  don  a  disfiguring  costume, 
and  go  about  with  stubbly,  ragged  beards.  The 
cultivated,  who  as  physicians  and  advisers  of  the 
grandees  had  enjoyed  unrestricted  intercourse  with 
the  highest  ranks,  were  to  confine  themselves  to 
their  Jew  quarter,  or  be  baptized,  baptism  being  the 
hoped-for  result  of  all  these  cruel  restrictions, 
enforced  with  merciless  vigor.  A  contemporary 
writer  (Solomon  Alami) describes  the  misery  caused 
by  the  edict :  "  Inmates  of  palaces  were  driven  into 
wretched  nooks,  and  dark,  low  huts.  Instead  of 
rustling  apparel  we  were  obliged  to  wear  miserable 
clothes,  which  drew  contempt  upon  us.  Prohibited 
from  shaving  the  beard,  we  had  to  appear  like 
mourners.  The  rich  tax-farmers  sank  into  want, 
for  they  knew  no  trade  by  which  they  could  gain  a 
livelihood,  and  the  handicraftsmen  found  no  custom. 
Starvation  stared  everyone  in  the  face.  Children 
died  on  their  mothers'  knees  from  hunger  and 

Amid  this  tribulation  the  Dominican  Ferrer  in- 
vaded the  synagogues,  crucifix  in  hand,  preached 
Christianity  in  a  voice  of  thunder,  offering  his  hear- 
ers enjoyment  of  life  and  opportunities  of  prefer- 
ment, or  threatening  damnation  here  and  hereafter. 
The  Christian  populace,  inflamed  by  the  passionate 
eloquence  of  the  preacher,  emphasized  his  teaching 


by  violent  assaults  on  the  Jews.  The  trial  was 
greater  than  the  unhappy  Castilian  Jews  could  bear. 
Flight  was  out  of  the  question,  for  the  law  forbade 
it  under  a  terrible  penalty.  It  is  not  surprising,  then, 
that  the  weak  and  lukewarm  among  them,  the  com- 
fort-loving and  wordly-minded,  succumbed  to  the 
temptation,  and  saved  themselves  by  baptism. 
Many  Jews  in  the  communities  of  Valladolid, 
Zamora,  Salamanca,  Toro,  Segovia,  Avila,  Bena- 
vente,  Leon,  Valencia,  Burgos,  Astorga,  and  other 
small  towns,  in  fact,  wherever  Vincent  Ferrer 
preached,  went  over  to  Christianity.  Several  syna- 
gogues were  turned  into  churches  by  Ferrer.  In 
the  course  of  his  four  months'  sojourn  (December, 
141 2 — March,  141 3)  in  the  kingdom  of  Castile,  this 
proselyte-monger  inflicted  wounds  upon  the  Jews 
from  which  they  bled  to  death. 

When,  however,  he  repaired  to  the  kingdom  of 
Aragfon — summoned  thither  to  advise  on  the  rival 
claims  of  several  pretenders  to  the  throne — and 
when  through  his  exertion  the  Castilian  Infante,  Don 
Ferdinand,  was  awarded  the  Aragonese  crown  (June, 
1414),  a  trifling  improvement  took  place  in  the  con- 
dition of  the  Castilian  Jews.  The  regent,  Donna 
Catalina,  issued  a  new  edict  in  the  name  of  her  son 
(17th  July).  In  this  document  the  Jews  were  still 
interdicted  the  exercise  of  handicrafts,  but  were  al- 
lowed, under  a  multitude  of  conditions,  to  visit  mar- 
kets with  their  merchandise.  The  prohibition  to 
hire  Christian  or  Mahometan  domestics  was  con- 
firmed ;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  the  employment  of 
day-laborers  and  gardeners  for  the  fields  and  vine- 
yards of  Jews,  and  shepherds  for  their  flocks,  was 
permitted.  The  new  law  triflingly  allowed  Jews 
to  trim  their  hair  and  to  clip  with  shears,  but  not 
entirely  remove,  their  beards ;  a  fringe  of  hair  was 
ordered  to  be  left  on  the  chin,  and  shaving  with  the 
razor  was  forbidden,  as  though  the  queen-regent 
and  her  sage  counselors  were  anxious  that  Jewish 


orthodoxy  should  not  be  wronged.  The  new  decree 
conceded  the  wearing  of  dress  materials  of  a  value 
of  sixty  maravedis  (under  the  former  edict  the  value 
had  been  fixed  at  half  this  sum),  but  imposed  a 
funnel-shaped  head-covering,  to  which  it  was  for- 
bidden to  attach  tassels.  The  vehemence  with 
which  the  edict  declaimed  against  the  ostentation 
of  Jewish  women  disclosed  its  female  authorship. 
Under  this  decree,  freedom  of  domicile  was  once 
more  accorded  to  Jews.  It  is  noteworthy  that  the 
new  edict  applied  only  to  Jews,  whereas  its  prede- 
cessor restricted  Mahometans  as  well. 

With  the  transfer  of  the  fanatical  Ferrer  to  Ara- 
gon,  the  communities  of  that  kingdom  began  to  ex- 
perience trials  and  misfortunes.  The  newly-elected 
king,  Don  Ferdinand,  owed  his  crown  to  Ferrer,  for 
as  arbitrator  between  the  rival  pretenders  he  had 
warmly  espoused  his  cause,  proclaimed  him  king, 
and  united  the  populace  in  his  favor.  Ferdinand 
consequently  paid  exceptional  veneration  to  his 
saintliness,  appointed  him  his  father-confessor  and 
spiritual  adviser,  and  granted  him  his  every  wish. 
Foremost  among  Ferrer's  aspirations  was  the  con- 
version of  the  Jews,  and  to  advance  it  the  king  com- 
manded the  Jews  of  Aragon  to  give  every  attention 
to  his  discourses.  The  zealous  proselytizer  made  a 
tour  of  the  kingdom,  vehemently  denouncing  the 
Jews  in  every  town  he  visited.  His  intimidations 
succeeded  in  converting  a  large  number,  particularly 
in  Saragossa,  Daroca,  Tortosa,  Valencia,  and  Ma- 
jorca. Altogether  Ferrer's  mission  to  the  Jews  of 
Castile  and  Aragon  is  said  to  have  resulted  in  not 
less  than  20,500  forced  baptisms. 

This,  however,  did  not  end  the  woes  of  Spanish 
Jews.  Pope  Benedict  XIII  had  still  worse  troubles 
in  store  for  them,  employing  as  his  instrument  his 
newly-baptized  Jewish  physician,  Joshua  Lorqui, 
otherwise  Geronimo  de  Santa  Fe.  This  pope,  de- 
posed by  the  council  of  Pisa  as  schismatic,  heretic 


and  forsworn,  deprived  of  his  spiritual  functions  and 
put  under  the  ban,  projected  the  conversion  of  the 
entire  body  of  Jews  in  Spain  to  the  church,  at  that 
time  the  object  of  universal  opprobrium.  On  the 
Pyrenean  peninsula  he  was  still  regarded  as  the 
legitimate  pope,  and  from  this  base  of  operations  he 
used  every  effort  to  procure  a  general  acknowledg- 
ment of  his  authority.  He  was  not  slow  to  perceive 
that  the  general  conversion  of  the  Jews  would  pow- 
erfully assist  his  design.  If  it  were  vouchsafed  to  him 
to  overcome  at  last  the  obstinacy,  blindness  and  infi- 
delity of  Israel,  and  to  bring  it  under  the  sovereignty 
of  the  cross — would  it  not  be  the  greatest  triumph 
for  the  church  and  for  himself?  Would  it  not  put 
all  his  enemies  to  shame  ?  Would  not  the  faithful 
range  themselves  under  the  pope  who  had  so  glori- 
fied the  church?  What  better  proof  could  he  give 
that  he  was  the  only  true  pontiff? 

To  promote  this  scheme,  Benedict,  by  the  author- 
ity of  the  king,  Don  Ferdinand,  summoned  (towards 
the  end  of  141 2)  the  most  learned  rabbis  and  stu- 
dents of  Scripture  in  the  kingdom  of  Aragon  to  a 
religious  disputation  at  Tortosa.  The  apostate 
Joshua  Lorqui,  who  was  well  read  in  Jewish  litera- 
ture, was  to  prove  to  the  Jews,  out  of  the  Talmud 
itself,  that  the  Messiah  had  come  in  the  person  of 
Jesus.  The  design  was  to  operate  on  the  most 
prominent  Jews,  the  papal  court  being  convinced 
that,  their  conversion  effected,  the  rank  and  file 
would  follow  of  their  own  accord.  Geronimo  care- 
fully selected  the  names  of  those  to  be  invited,  and 
the  pope  or  the  king  attached  a  punishment  to  their 
non-attendance.  What  were  the  Jews  to  do  ?  To 
come  or  to  remain  away,  to  accept  or  to  refuse,  was 
equally  dangerous.  About  twenty-two  of  the  most 
illustrious  Aragonese  Jews  answered  the  summons. 
At  their  head  was  Don  Vidal  ben  Benveniste  Ibn- 
Labi  (Ferrer),  of  Saragossa,  a  scion  of  the  old  Jew- 
ish nobility,  a  man  of  consideration  and  culture,  a 

208  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH,  VI. 

physician  and  neoHebrew  poet.  Among  his  com- 
panions were  Joseph  Albo,  of  Monreal,  a  disciple  of 
Chasdai  Crescas,  distinguished  for  his  philosophic 
learning  and  genuine  piety ;  Serachya  Halevi  Sa- 
ladin,  of  Saragossa,  translator  of  an  Arabic  philo- 
sophic work;  Matathias  Yizhari  (En  Duran?),of 
the  same  town,  also  a  polished  writer  ;  Astruc  Levi, 
of  Daroca,  a  man  of  position  ;  Bonastruc  Desmaes- 
tre,  whose  presence  was  most  desired  by  the  pope, 
because  he  was  learned  and  distinguished;  the  ven- 
erable Don  Joseph,  of  the  respected  Ibn-Yachya 
family,  and  others  of  lesser  note. 

Although  the  Jewish  notables  summoned  to  the 
disputation  were  men  of  liberal  education,  and  Don 
Vidal  even  spoke  Latin  fluently,  none  of  them  pos- 
sessed that  stout-heartedness  and  force  of  character 
which  impress  even  the  most  vindictive  enemy,  and 
which  Nachmani  so  conspicuously  displayed  when 
alone  he  encountered  two  of  the  bitterest  adversaries 
of  Judaism — the  Dominican  General  De  Penyaforte 
and  the  apostate  Pablo  Christiani.  A  succession 
of  humiliations  and  persecutions  had  broken  the 
manhood  of  even  the  proudest  in  Jewry,  and  had 
transformed  all  into  weaklings.  They  were  no  match 
for  perilous  times.  When  Benedict's  summons 
reached  them,  they  trembled.  They  agreed  to  act 
with  circumspection  and  calmness,  not  to  interrupt 
their  opponent,  and,  above  all,  to  be  united  and  har- 
monious, but  they  disregarded  these  resolutions,  ex- 
posed their  weakness,  and  eventually  broke  up  into 
factions,  each  of  which  took  its  own  course. 

Duly  commissioned  by  his  schismatic  master,  the 
renegade  Geronimo  drew  up  a  program.  In  the 
first  place,  proofs  were  to  be  adduced  from  the  Tal- 
mud and  cognate  writings  that  the  Messiah  had 
already  come  in  the  person  of  Jesus  of  Nazareth. 
The  papal  court  flattered  itself  that  this  would  bring 
about  widespread  conversion  of  the  Jews,  but,  in 
case  of  failure,  there  was  to  follow  a  war  of  exter- 

CH.  VL     GERONIMO  DE  SANTA  FE  S  TREATISE.        209 

ruination  against  the  Talmud  on  account  of  the 
abominations  it  contained,  and  the  support  it  af- 
forded the  Jews  in  their  bHndness.  Geronimo  de 
Sante  Fe  accordingly  composed  a  treatise  on  the 
Messianic  character  and  Divinity  of  Jesus  as  illus- 
trated in  Jewish  sacred  writings.  He  collected  all 
the  specious  arguments,  the  sophistries  and  text 
twistings  which  his  predecessors  had  developed  from 
their  obscure,  senseless,  Scriptural  interpretations, 
added  nonsense  of  his  own,  declared  playful  Agadic 
conceits  to  be  essential  articles  of  faith,  and  refuted 
Jewish  views  of  the  questions  discussed.  He  enum- 
erated twenty-four  conditions  of  the  coming  of  the 
Messiah,  and  exerted  himself  to  show  that  they  had 
all  been  fulfilled  in  Jesus.  His  fundamental  con- 
tention was  that  the  Christians  constituted  the  true 
Israel,  that  they  had  succeeded  the  Jewish  people  in 
Divine  favor,  and  that  the  Biblical  terms,  mountain, 
tent,  temple,  house  of  God,  Zion  and  Jerusalem  were 
allegorical  references  to  the  church.  An  instance  of 
his  ridiculous  arguments  may  be  mentioned.  Like 
John  of  Valladolid,  he  saw  in  the  irregular  formation 
of  a  letter  in  a  word  in  Isaiah  a  deep  mystery,  indi- 
cating the  virginity  of  Mary,  and  the  realization  of 
the  Messianic  period  by  the  advent  of  Jesus.  From 
another  prophetic  verse  he  expounded  the  immac- 
ulate conception  of  Jesus  in  so  indecent  a  manner 
that  it  is  impossible  to  repeat  his  explanation.  This 
treatise,  which  blended  the  Patristic  and  the  Rab- 
binic spirit,  having  been  examined  by  the  pope 
and  his  cardinals,  was  ordered  to  serve  as  the  theme 
of  the  disputation. 

No  more  remarkable  controversy  was  ever  held. 
It  occupied  sixty-eight  sittings,  and  extended,  with 
few  interruptions,  over  a  year  and  nine  months 
(from  February,  1413,  until  the  12th  November, 
1414).  In  the  foreground  stands  a  pope,  abandoned 
by  almost  the  whole  of  Christendom,  and  hunted 
from  his  seat,  anxious  for  a  favorable  issue,  not  for 


the  glorification  of  the  faith,  but  for  his  own  tem- 
poral advancement;  by  his  side,  a  baptized  Jew, 
combating  Rabbinical  Judaism  with  Rabbinical 
weapons  ;  and  in  the  background,  a  frenzied  Dom- 
inican preacher  with  his  escort  of  flagellants,  pro- 
moting a  persecution  of  the  Jews  to  give  force  to 
the  conversionist  zeal  of  Tortosa.  The  helpless, 
bewildered  Jews  could  only  turn  their  eyes  to  heaven, 
for  on  earth  they  found  themselves  surrounded  by 
bitter  enemies.  When,  at  their  first  audience  with 
Pope  Benedict  (6th  February,  141 3),  they  were 
asked  to  give  their  names  for  registtation,  they 
were  seized  with  terror ;  they  imagined  their  lives 
in  jeopardy.  The  pope  quieted  them  with  the  ex- 
planation that  it  was  only  a  customary  formality. 
On  the  whole  he  treated  them  at  first  with  kindness 
and  affability,  the  usual  attitude  of  princes  of  the 
church  when  they  have  an  end  to  attain.  He  as- 
sured them  that  no  harm  would  befall  them ;  that 
he  had  summoned  them  merely  to  ascertain  whether 
there  was  any  truth  in  Geronimo's  statement  that 
the  Talmud  attested  the  Messianic  character  of  Jesus, 
and  he  promised  them  the  fullest  freedom  of  speech. 
At  the  end  of  the  first  audience  he  dismissed  them 
graciously,  assigned  quarters  to  each  of  the  notables, 
and  gave  instructions  that  their  comfort  should  be 
cared  for.  A  few  prophesied  from  this  friendly  re- 
ception a  successful  issue  for  themselves  and  their 
cause,  but  they  knew  little  of  Rome  and  the  vice- 
gerents of  God. 

A  few  days  later  the  disputation  began.  When 
the  Jewish  notables  entered  the  audience  hall,  they 
were  awe-struck  by  the  splendor  of  the  scene: 
Pope  Benedict,  on  an  elevated  throne,  clad  in  his 
state  robes;  around  him  the  cardinals  and  princes 
of  the  church,  resplendent  in  jeweled  vestments ; 
beyond  them  nearly  a  thousand  auditors  of  the 
highest  ranks.  The  little  knot  of  defenders  of 
Judaism  trembled  before  this  imposing  and  confident 


array  of  the  forces  of  Christianity.  The  pope  him- 
self presided,  and  opened  the  sitting  with  an  address 
to  the  Jews.  He  informed  them  that  the  truth  of 
neither  Judaism  nor  Christianity  was  to  be  called 
into  question,  for  the  Christian  faith  was  above 
discussion  and  indisputable,  and  Judaism  had  once 
been  true,  but  had  been  abrogated  by  the  later  dis- 
pensation. The  disputation  would  be  confined  to 
the  single  question,  whether  the  Talmud  recognized 
Jesus  as  the  Messiah.  The  Jews  were  conse- 
quently limited  to  mere  defense.  At  a  sign  from 
the  pope,  the  convert  Geronimo  stood  forth,  and, 
after  a  salutation  of  the  papal  toe,  delivered  himself 
of  a  long-winded  harangue,  abounding  in  Christian, 
Jewish,  and  even  scholastic  subtleties,  and  full  of 
praise  of  the  magnanimity  and  graciousness  of  the 
pope  in  endeavoring  to  bring  the  Jews  into  the  way 
of  salvation.  His  text,  applied  to  the  Jews,  was  a 
verse  from  Isaiah :  "  If  ye  be  willing  and  obedient, 
ye  shall  eat  the  good  of  the  land;  but  if  ye  refuse 
and  rebel,  ye  shall  be  devoured  with  the  sword" — 
which  disclosed  the  final  argument  of  the  church. 
In  reply,  Vidal  Benveniste,  who  had  been  elected 
spokesman  by  the  notables,  delivered  a  speech  in 
Latin,  which  evoked  a  compliment  from  the  pope. 
Don  Vidal  exposed  Geronimo's  malignity  in  threat- 
ening the  sword  and  other  punishments  before  the 
arguments  on  either  side  were  heard.  The  pope 
acknowledged  the  justice  of  the  reproof,  and  said 
in  extenuation  that  Geronimo  had  still  the  boorish- 
ness  derived  from  his  Jewish  origin.  The  notables 
plucked  up  courage  to  petition  the  pope  to  release 
them  from  further  controversy,  giving  as  their 
reason  that  their  opponent  employed  scholastic 
methods  of  reasoning,  in  which  it  was  impossible  for 
them  to  follow  him,  as  their  faith  was  founded  not 
on  syllogisms  but  on  tradition.  The  pope  naturally 
declined  to  accede  to  this  request,  but  invited  them 
to  continue  the  discussion  on  the  following  day,  and 

212  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

had  them  escorted  to  their  quarters  by  officers  of 
high  rank. 

Overwhelmed  with  anxiety,  the  Jewish  notables  and 
the  entire  community  of  Tortosa  assembled  in  the 
synagogue  to  implore  help  of  Him  who  had  so  often 
stood  by  their  fathers  in  their  hours  of  need, 
and  to  pray  that  acceptable  words  might  be  put 
into  their  mouths,  so  that  by  no  chance  ex- 
pression they  should  provoke  the  wild  beasts 
seeking  to  devour  them.  Serachya  Halevi  Saladin 
gave  expression  to  the  gloomy  feelings  of  the  con- 
gregation in  his  sermon. 

For  a  time  the  controversy  retained  its  friendly 
character.  Geronimo  quoted  obscure  Agadic  pas- 
sages from  the  Talmud  and  other  Hebrew  writings 
to  establish  his  astounding  contention  that  the  Tal- 
mud attests  that  Jesus  was  the  Messiah.  Generally 
the  pope  presided  at  the  disputations,  but  occasion- 
ally grave  matters  affecting  his  own  position  neces- 
sitated his  absence.  The  maintenance  of  his  dignity 
was  threatened  by  the  convening  of  the  council  of 
Constance  by  the  Christian  princes,  which  consti- 
tuted itself  the  supreme  court  in  the  conflict  between 
the  three  popes.  Consequently,  Benedict  had  to 
hold  frequent  consultations  with  his  friends.  On 
these  occasions,  his  place  was  taken  by  the  general 
of  the  Dominicans  or  the  chamberlain  of  the  papal 
palace.  The  proofs  adduced  by  Geronimo  in  sup- 
port of  his  statements  were  so  absurd  that  it  should 
have  been  easy  for  the  Jewish  delegates  to  refute 
them.  But  their  words  were  wilfully  misinterpreted, 
so  that  in  several  instances  it  was  recorded  in  the 
protocol  that  they  had  conceded  the  point  under 
discussion.  A  few  of  them  consequently  committed 
their  refutations  to  writing;  but  they  still  met  with 
arbitrary  treatment.  Some  points  raised  by  them 
were  condemned  as  not  pertinent  to  the  discussion. 
The  Jewish  delegates,  who  had  entered  on  the  con- 
troversy with  unwilling  hearts,  were  exhausted  by 


the  talking  and  taunting,  and  were  anxious  to  avoid 
retort.  Suddenly  the  pope  threw  aside  his  mask  of 
friendliness,  and  showed  his  true  disposition  by 
threatening  them  with  death.  Sixty-two  days  the 
war  of  tongues  had  lasted,  and  the  representatives 
of  Judaism  showed  no  sign  of  their  much-hoped-for 
conversion.  Their  power  of  resistance  appeared  to 
grow  with  the  battle.  So.  in  the  sixty- third  sitting, 
the  pope  changed  his  tactics.  At  his  command  Ge- 
ronimo  now  came  forward  as  the  censor  of  the  Tal- 
mud, accusing  it  of  containing  all  kinds  of  abomi- 
nations, blasphemy,  immorality  and  heresy,  and 
demanding  its  condemnation,  A  few  new-Christians, 
among  them  Andreas  Beltran  (Bertrand)  of  Va- 
lencia, the  pope's  almoner,  valiantly  seconded  this 

Geronimo  had  prepared,  at  the  instance  of  the 
pope,  a  treatise  with  this  purpose  in  view.  He  had 
collected  all  the  extravagances  accidentally  uttered 
by  one  or  two  of  the  hundreds  of  Agadists  figuring 
in  the  Talmud.  Shameless  malice  or  ignorance  dic- 
tated manifestly  false  accusations  against  the  Tal- 
mud. Thus,  he  stated  that  it  permitted  the  beating 
of  parents,  blasphemy,  and  idolatry,  also  the  break- 
ing of  oaths,  provided  that  on  the  previous  Day  of 
Atonement  the  precaution  had  been  taken  to  declare 
them  invalid.  Conscientiousness  in  respect  to  oaths 
and  vows  he  thus  construed  as  perfidy,  and,  like 
Nicholas-Donin,  drew  the  conclusion  that  the  Jews 
did  not  fulfill  their  obligations  towards  Christians. 
Of  course,  he  revived  the  calumny  of  Alfonso  of 
Valladolid,  that  the  Jews  cursed  the  Christians  in 
their  daily  prayers.  Every  inimical  reference  in  the 
Talmud  to  heathens  or  Jewish  Christians,  Geronimo 
interpreted  as  applying  to  Christians,  a  fabrication 
with  disastrous  consequences,  inasmuch  as  the  ene- 
mies of  the  Jews  repeated  these  deadly  charges 
without  further  inquiry.  When  the  attacks  on  the 
Talmud  unexpectedly  became  the  subject  of  discus- 

214  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

sion,  the  Jewish  representatives  defended  the  ar- 
raigned points,  but  were  so  hard  pressed  that  they 
split  up  into  two  parties.  Don  Astruc  Levi  handed 
in  a  written  declaration,  setting  forth  that  he  ascribed 
no  authority  to  the  Agadic  sentences  quoted  incrimi- 
nating the  Talmud ;  that  he  held  them  as  naught,  and 
renounced  them.  The  majority  of  the  notables  sup- 
ported him.  To  save  the  life  of  the  whole  they  sac- 
rificed a  limb.  Joseph  Albo  and  Ferrer  (Don  Vidal) 
alone  maintained  their  ground,  declaring  that  the 
Talmudic  Agada  was  a  competent  authority,  and 
that  the  equivocal  passages  had  a  different  mfeaning 
from  that  ascribed  to  them,  and  weref  not  to  be  in- 
terpreted literally.  So  the  machinations  of  the  pope 
and  his  creatures  had  at  least  succeeded  in  bringing 
about  a  division  in  the  ranks  of  the  defenders  of 

The  principal  object  of  the  disputation — the  con- 
version of  the  Jews  eti  masse  through  the  example 
of  their  most  prominent  leaders — was  not  attained. 
All  the  means  employed  failed — the  benignant  re- 
ception, the  threats  of  violence,  the  attack  on  Jewish 
convictions.  An  expedient,  calculated  entirely  for 
effect,  had  also  been  tried,  which,  it  was  thought, 
would  so  mortify  the  notables  that,  dazed  and  over- 
whelmed, they  would  throw  down  their  arms  and 
surrender  at  discretion.  The  fanatical  proselytizer 
Vincent  Ferrer  had  returned  from  Majorca  to  Cata- 
lonia and  Aragon,  and,  surrounded  by  his  terror- 
inspiring  band  of  flagellants,  had  renewed  his  mis- 
sion to  the  Jews,  amid  dismal  chants  and  fiery 
exhortations  to  embrace  the  cross.  Again  he  suc- 
ceeded in  winning  over  many  thousands  to  Chris- 
tianity. In  the  great  Jewish  communities  of  Sara- 
gossa,  Calatajud,  Daroca,  Fraga  and  Barbastro,  the 
conversions  were  limited  to  individuals  ;  but  smaller 
congregations,  such  as  those  of  Alcafiiz,  Caspe, 
Maella,  Lerida,  Alcolea  and  Tamarite,  hemmed  in 
by  hostile  Christians,  who  spared  neither  limb  nor 

CH.  VI.  benedict's  bull.  215 

life,  went  over  in  a  body  to  Christianity.  All  these 
proselytes  were  gradually  brought,  in  small  and 
large  troops,  to  Tortosa,  and  conducted,  at  the 
order  of  the  pope,  into  the  audience  hall,  where, 
before  the  entire  assembly,  they  made  public  pro- 
fession of  the  Christian  faith.  Living  trophies,  they 
were  intended  to  shadow  forth  the  impending  vic- 
tory of  the  church,  dishearten  the  defenders  of 
Judaism,  and  press  upon  them  the  conviction  that, 
as  in  their  absence  the  Jewish  communities  were 
melting  away,  all  resistance  on  their  part  was  in 
vain.  It  is  no  small  merit  that  Don  Vidal,  Joseph 
Albo,  Astruc  Levi,  and  their  companions  refused  to 
yield  to  the  pressure.  The  pope  saw  his  hopes 
shattered.     Not  a  sinorle  notable  wavered,  and  con- 

versions  of  large  masses  did  not  take  place.  The 
great  communities  of  Aragon  and  Catalonia  re- 
mained true  to  their  faith,  with  the  exception  of  a 
few  weaklings,  amongst  them  some  relations  of 
Vidal  Benveniste.  The  council  of  Constance  would 
soon  meet,  and  Benedict  would  be  unable  to  appear 
before  it  as  the  triumphant  conqueror  of  Judaism — 
would  have  no  special  claim  to  preference  over  the 
other  two  competing  popes. 

In  his  disappointment  he  vented  his  spleen  on 
the  Talmud  and  the  already  restricted  liberties  of  the 
Jews.  At  the  last  sitting  of  the  disputation  he 
dismissed  the  Jewish  notables  with  black  looks, 
from  which  they  easily  divined  his  evil  intentions. 
Various  obstacles  prevented  him  from  putting  them 
into  force  for  six  months,  when  (May  nth,  1415) 
they  were  embodied  in  a  bull  of  eleven  clauses. 
The  Jews  were  forbidden  to  study  or  teach  the  Tal- 
mud and  Talmudic  literature ;  all  copies  of  the  Tal- 
mud were  to  be  sought  out  and  confiscated.  Anti- 
Christian  works,  written  by  Jews,  especially  one 
entitled  "Mar  Mar  Jesu,"  were  not  to  be  read  under 
pain  of  punishment  for  blasphemy.  Every  com- 
munity, whether  large  or  small,  was  prohibited  from 

2l6  HISTORY    OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

possessing  more  than  one  simple,  poorly  appointed 
synagogue.  The  Jews  were  to  be  strictly  separated 
from  Christians,  were  not  to  eat,  bathe,  or  do  busi- 
ness with  them.  They  were  to  occupy  no  official 
posts,  exercise  no  handicrafts,  not  even  practice 
medicine.  The  wearing  of  the  red  or  yellov/  Jew 
badge  v^^as  also  enjoined  by  this  bull.  Finally,  all 
Jews  were  to  be  forced  to  hear  Christian  sermons 
three  times  a  year — during  Advent,  at  Easter,  and 
in  the  summer.  In  the  first  sermon  the  Prophets 
and  the  Talmud  were  to  be  used  to  prove  that  the 
true  Messiah  had  come ;  in  the  second,  their  atten- 
tion was  to  be  directed  to  the  abominations  and 
heresies  contained,  according  to  Geronimo's  treatise, 
in  the  Talmud,  alone  responsible  for  their  infidelity ; 
and  in  the  third  it  was  to  be  impressed  upon  them 
that  the  destruction  of  the  temple  and  the  disper- 
sion of  the  Hebrew  people  had  been  predicted  by 
the  founder  of  Christianity.  At  the  close  of  each 
sermon  the  bull  was  to  be  read  aloud.  The  strict 
execution  of  this  malignant  edict  was  confided  by 
the  pope  to  Gonzalo  de  Santa  Maria,  son  of  the 
apostate  Paul,  who  had  been  taken  over  to  Chris- 
tianity by  his  father. 

Fortunately,  the  vindictive  schemes  of  Pope  Bene- 
dict never  came  into  active  operation.  While  he 
was  still  engaged  in  tormenting  the  Jews,  the  coun- 
cil of  Constance  decreed  his  deposition.  As  he  had 
obstinately  opposed  the  advice  of  the  king,  Don 
Ferdinand,  and  the  German  emperor,  Sigismund, 
to  lay  aside  the  tiara  of  his  own  initiative,  he  was 
abandoned  by  his  Spanish  protectors.  The  weapons 
he  had  employed  recoiled  upon  himself.  His  last 
adherents  were  drawn  from  him  by  Vincent  Ferrer's 
fanatical  preaching.  The  flagellant  priest  not  only 
exhorted  the  king  of  Aragon  to  renounce  "  this 
unfrocked  and  spurious  pope,"  but  he  held  forth 
everywhere — in  the  churches  and  the  open  streets 
— that  "a  man  like  this  pope  deserves  to  be  pur- 

CH.  VI.       END  OF  THE  CHIEF  PERSECUTORS.         21/ 

sued  to  death  by  every  right-thinking  Christian." 
Deserted  by  his  protectors,  his  friends,  and  even 
his  proteges,  there  now  remained  to  Pedro  de  Luna, 
of  all  his  possessions,  only  the  small  fortress  of 
Peniscola,  and  even  here  King  Ferdinand,  urged  on 
by  Santa  Maria,  the  pope's  creature,  threatened  him 
with  a  siege.  In  the  end  this  ambitious  and  obstin- 
ate man  covered  himself  with  ridicule  by  attempting 
to  continue  to  play  the  part  of  pope  in  his  tiny 
palace.  He  appointed  a  college  of  four  cardinals, 
and  pledged  them  before  his  death  not  to  recognize 
the  pope  elected  at  Constance,  but  to  choose  a  suc- 
cessor from  among  their  own  body.  When  he  died, 
his  college  elected  two  popes  instead  of  one.  Such 
was  the  infallibility  of  the  church,  into  the  pale  of 
which  it  was  sought  to  force  the  Jews.  What  be- 
came of  the  malicious  apostate,  Joshua  Lorqui- 
Geronimo  de  Santa  Fe,  after  the  fall  of  his  master, 
is  not  known.  In  Jewish  circles  he  was  remembered 
by  the  well-earned  sobriquet  of  "  The  Calumniator" 
(Megadef).  King  Ferdinand  of  Aragon,  who  had 
always  allowed  himself  to  be  influenced  by  enemies 
of  the  Jews,  died  in  141 6.  His  death  was  followed, 
after  a  short  interval,  by  that  of  the  Jew-hating 
regent,  Catalina  of  Castile,  the  instrument  of  Vin- 
cent's Jew-hunt  (1418),  and  finally  by  that  of  Vin- 
cent himself  (1419),  who  had  the  mortification  to 
see  the  flagellant  movement,  to  which  he  owed  his 
saintly  reputation,  condemned  by  the  council  of 
Constance,  he  himself  being  compelled  to  disband 
his  "white  troop." 

Although  the  chief  persecutors  of  the  Jews  had 
disappeared,  the  unhappy  conditions  created  by  them 
remained.  The  exclusive  laws  of  Castile  and  the 
bull  of  Pope  Benedict  were  still  in  force.  Ferrer's 
proselytizing  campaigns  had  severely  crippled  the 
Spanish,  and  even  foreign  communities.  In  Portu- 
gal alone  they  met  with  no  success.  The  Portu- 
guese ruler,  Don  Joao  I,  had  other  interests  to  pur- 


sue  than  the  conversion  of  Jews.  He  was  then 
occupied  in  that  first  conquest  on  the  coast  of  Africa, 
opposite  to  Portugal,  which  laid  the  foundation  of 
the  subsequent  maritime  supremacy  of  the  Portu- 
guese. When  Vincent  Ferrer  petitioned  King  JoSo 
for  permission  to  come  to  Portugal  in  order  to  make 
the  pulpits  and  streets  resound  with  his  dismal  har- 
angues on  the  sinfulness  of  the  world  and  the  blind- 
ness and  obstinacy  of  the  Jews,  the  Portuguese  king 
informed  him  that  he  "  might  come,  but  with  a  crown 
of  red-hot  iron  on  his  head."  Portugal  was  the  only 
refuge  on  the  Pyrenean  peninsula  from  the  prosely- 
tizing rage  of  the  flagellant  preacher,  and  many 
Spanish  Jews  who  had  the  means  of  escaping  fled 
thither.  Don  Judah  Ibn  Yachya-Negro,  held  in  high 
esteem  by  King  Joao  I,  and,  perhaps,  appointed  by 
him  chief  rabbi  of  Portugal,  represented  to  him  the 
horrors  of  enforced  baptism,  and  the  necessary  in- 
sincerity of  the  professions  of  unwilling  converts. 
The  king  consequently  issued  his  commands  that  the 
immigrant  new-Christians  should  not  be  interfered 
with  or  delivered  up  to  Spain. 

In  other  parts  of  Europe,  where  the  fanatical 
Dominican  had  been,  or  whither  reports  of  his  deeds 
or  misdeeds  had  penetrated,  the  Jews  were  forced  to 
drain  the  cup  of  bitterness  to  the  dregs.  In  Savoy, 
which  Vincent  Ferrer  had  visited,  they  were  obliged 
to  hide  themselves  with  their  holy  books  in  mount- 
ain caves.  In  Germany,  persecutions  of  Jews  had 
always  found  a  congenial  soil,  and  they  were  pro- 
moted by  the  anarchy  which  prevailed  during  the 
reign  of  Sigismund  and  the  sessions  of  the  council 
of  Constance.  Even  the  Italian  communities,  though 
for  the  most  part  undisturbed,  lived  in  continual 
anxiety,  lest  the  movement  strike  a  responsive 
chord  in  their  politically  distracted  land.  They 
convened  a  great  synod,  first  at  Bologna,  then  at 
Forli  (1416 — 1418),  to  consider  what  measures 
might  be  adopted  to  avert  the  threatened  danger. 

CH.  VI.  POPE   MARTIN   V.  2I9 

Happily,  at  this  moment,  after  a  long  schism,  bitter 
strife  and  a  plurality  of  anti-popes,  the  council  of 
Constance  elected  a  pope,  who,  though  full  of  dis- 
simulation, was  not  the  most  degraded  in  the 
college  of  cardinals.  Martin  V,  who  was  said  by 
his  contemporaries  to  have  appeared  simple  and 
good  before  his  election,  but  to  have  shown  himself 
afterwards  very  clever  and  not  very  kind,  received 
the  Jews  with  scant  courtesy  when,  during  his  pro- 
gress through  Constance,  they  approached  him  car- 
rying lighted  tapers  in  festive  procession,  and  offered 
him  the  Torah  with  a  prayer  for  the  confirmation  of 
their  sufferance.  From  his  white  palfrey  with  silk 
and  gold  trappings  he  answered  them  :  "You  have 
the  law,  but  understand  it  not.  The  old  has  passed 
away,  and  the  new  been  found."  (The  blind  finding 
fault  with  the  seeing.)  Yet  he  treated  them  with 
leniency.  At  the  request  of  Emperor  Sigismund, 
he  confirmed  the  privileges  granted  to  the  Jews  of 
Germany  and  Savoy  by  the  preceding  emperor,  Ru- 
pert, denouncing  attacks  on  their  persons  and  prop- 
erty, and  the  practice  of  converting  them  by  force. 
The  emperor,  who  may  be  accused  of  thoughtlessness 
but  not  of  a  spirit  of  persecution,  thereupon  issued 
his  commands  to  all  the  German  princes  and  magis- 
trates, cities  and  subjects,  to  allow  his  "servi  cam- 
erae  "  the  full  enjoyment  of  the  privileges  and  im- 
munities which  had  been  given  them  by  the  pope 
(February  26th,  141 8).  A  deputation  of  Jews,  com- 
missioned by  the  Italian  synod,  also  waited  upon  the 
now  generally  acknowledged  pope,  and  craved  his 
protection.  Even  the  Spanish  Jews  appear  to  have 
dispatched  an  embassy  to  him,  consisting  of  two  of 
their  most  distinguished  men,  Don  Samuel  Abra- 
banel  and  Don  Samuel  Halevi.  When  the  Jews 
complained  of  the  insecurity  of  their  lives,  the  at- 
tacks on  their  religious  convictions,  and  the  frequent 
desecration  of  their  sanctuaries,  the  pope  issued  a 
bull  (January  31st,  141 9),  with  the  following  pre- 
amble : 

220  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

"  Whereas  the  Jews  are  made  in  the  image  of  God,  and  a  remnant 
of  them  will  one  day  be  saved,  and  whereas  they  have  besought  our 
protection,  following  in  the  footsteps  of  our  predecessors  we  command 
that  they  be  not  molested  in  their  synagogues ;  that  their  laws,  rights, 
and  customs  be  not  assailed ;  that  they  be  not  baptized  by  force,  con- 
strained to  observe  Christian  festivals,  nor  to  wear  new  badges,  and 
that  they  be  not  hindered  in  their  business  relations  with  Christians." 

What  could  have  induced  Pope  Martin  to  show  such 
friendly  countenance  to  the  Jews?  Probably  he  had 
some  idea  of  checkmating  by  this  means  the  Jew- 
hating  Benedict,  who  still  played  at  being  pope  in 
his  obscure  corner.  The  principal  consideration 
probably  was  the  rich  gifts  with  which  the  Jewish 
representatives  approached  him.  Although  at  the 
council  of  Constance  no  cardinal  was  poorer  than 
Martin,  and  his  election  was  in  great  measure  ow- 
ing to  this  fact,  on  the  throne  of  St.  Peter  he 
showed  no  aversion  to  money.  On  the  contrary, 
everything  might  be  obtained  from  him  if  money 
were  paid  down ;  without  it,  nothing. 



The  Hussite  Heresy — Consequences  for  the  Jews  involved  in  the 
Struggle — Jacob  Molin — Abraham  Benveniste  and  Joseph  Ibn- 
Shem  Tob  in  the  Service  of  the  Castilian  Court — Isaac  Cam- 
panton,  the  Poet  Solomon  Dafiera — Moses  Da  Rieti — Anti- 
Christian  Polemical  Literature — Chayim  Ibn-Musa — Simon  Duran 
and  his  Son  Solomon — Joseph  Albo  as  a  ReUgious  Philosopher — 
Jewish  Philosophical  Systems — Edict  of  the  Council  of  Basle 
against  the  Jews — Fanatical  Outbreaks  in  Majorca — Astruc 
Sibili  and  his  Conversion  to  Christianity. 

1420— 1442  C.E. 

Meanwhile  history  received  a  fresh  impulse,  which, 
although  coming  from  weak  hands,  produced  a  for- 
ward movement.  The  spreading  corruption  in  the 
church,  the  self-deifying  arrogance  of  the  popes  and 
the  licentiousness  of  priests  and  monks  revolted  the 
moral  sense  of  the  people,  opened  their  eyes,  and 
encouraged  them  to  doubt  the  very  foundations  of 
the  Roman  Catholic  system.  No  improvement  could 
be  expected  from  the  princes  of  the  church,  the 
jurists  and  diplomatists  who  met  in  council  at  Con- 
stance to  deliberate  on  a  scheme  of  thorough 
reform.  They  had  only  a  worldly  object  in  view, 
seeking  to  gloss  over  the  prevailing  rottenness  by 
transferring  the  papal  power  to  the  high  ecclesiastics, 
substituting  the  rule  of  an  aristocratic  hierarchy  for 
papal  absolutism.  A  Czech  priest,  John  Huss,  of 
Prague,  inspired  by  the  teachings  of  Wycliffe,  spoke 
the  magic  word  that  loosened  the  bonds  in  which 
the  church  had  ensnared  the  minds  of  men.  "  Not 
this  or  that  pope,"  he  said  in  effect,  "but  the  papacy 
and  the  entire  organization  of  the  Catholic  church 
constitute  the  fundamental  evil  from  which  Chris- 
tendom is  suffering."  The  flames  to  which  the 
council  of  Constance  condemned  this  courageous 


priest  only  served  to  light  up  the  truth  he  had 
uttered.  They  fired  a  multitude  in  Bohemia,  who 
entered  on  a  life  and  death  struggle  with  Catholi- 
cism. Whenever  a  party  in  Christendom  opposes 
itself  to  the  ruling  church,  it  assumes  a  tinge  of  the 
Old  Testament,  not  to  say  Jewish,  spirit.  The 
Hussites  regarded  Catholicism,  not  unjustly,  as 
heathenism,  and  themselves  as  Israelites,  who  must 
wage  holy  war  against  Philistines,  Moabites,  and 
Ammonites.  Churches  and  monasteries  were  to 
them  the  sanctuaries  of  a  dissolute  idolatry,  temples 
to  Baal  and  Moloch  and  groves  of  Ashtaroth,  to  be 
consumed  with  fire  and  sword.  The  Hussite  war, 
although  largely  due  to  the  mutual  race-hatred  of 
Czechs  and  Germans,  and  to  religious  indignation, 
began  in  a  small  way  the  work  of  clearing  the  church 
doctrine  of  its  mephitic  elements. 

For  the  Jews,  this  movement  was  decidedly 
calamitous,  the  responsibility  for  which  must  rest, 
not  with  the  wild  Hussites,  but  with  the  Catholic 
fanaticism  stirred  up  against  the  new  heresy.  The 
former  went  little  beyond  denunciations  of  Jewish 
usury;  at  the  most,  sacked  Jewish  together  with 
Catholic  houses.  Of  special  Hussite  hostility  to  the 
Jews  no  evidence  is  forthcoming.  On  the  other 
hand,  Catholics  accused  Jews  of  secretly  supplying 
the  Hussites  with  money  and  arms;  and  in  the 
Bavarian  towns  near  the  Bohmerwald,  they  per- 
secuted them  unmercifully  as  friends  and  allies  of 
the  heretics.  The  Dominicans — the  "army  of  anti- 
Christ"  as  they  were  called — included  the  Jews  in 
their  fierce  pulpit  denunciations  of  the  Hussites, 
and  inflamed  the  people  and  princes  against  them. 
The  crusades  against  the  Hussites,  like  those  against 
the  Mahometans  and  Waldenses,  commenced  with 
massacres  of  Jews.  Revived  fanaticism  first  affected 
the  Jews  in  Austria — a  land  which,  like  Spain,  passed 
from  liberal  tolerance  of  Jews  to  persecution,  and 
in   bigotry   approximated  so   close  to  the  Iberian 


kingdom  that  it  ultimately  joined  it.  The  mind  of 
Archduke  Albert,  an  earnest  and  well-intentioned 
prince,  was  systematically  filled  with  hatred  against 
the  "  enemies  of  God."  Fable  after  fable  was  in- 
vented, which,  devoid  even  of  originality,  sufficed 
to  drive  to  extreme  measures  a  man  of  pure  char- 
acter, ignorant  of  the  lying  devices  of  the  Jew- 
haters.  Three  Christian  children  went  skating  in 
Vienna ;  the  ice  broke  through,  and  they  were 
drowned.  When  the  anxious  parents  failed  to  find 
them,  a  malicious  rumor  was  set  on  foot  that  they 
had  been  slaughtered  by  Jews,  who  required  their 
blood  for  the  ensuing  Passover  celebration.  Then  a 
Jew  was  charged  with  a  crime  calculated  to  incense 
the  populace  to  a  still  greater  degree.  The  wife  of 
the  sacristan  of  Enns  was  said  to  have  purloined 
the  consecrated  host  from  the  church,  and  sold  it  to 
a  wealthy  Jew  named  Israel,  who  had  sent  it  to  a 
large  number  of  Jewish  communities  in  and  out  of 
Austria.  The  charges  of  Jewish  murders  of  Chris- 
tian children  and  Jewish  profanations  of  hosts  had 
not  lost  their  charm  in  the  fifteenth  century,  and 
their  inventors  could  calculate  their  effect  with  ac- 
curacy. By  order  of  the  archduke,  the  sacristan's 
wife  and  her  two  accomplices  or  seducers,  Israel 
and  his  wife,  were  brought  to  Vienna,  examined, 
and  forced  to  confess.  The  records  of  the  case 
are  silent  as  to  the  means  employed  to  obtain  the 
avowal  of  guilt;  but  the  procedure  of  mediaeval 
Christendom  in  such  trials  is  well  known. 

Archduke  Albert  issued  the  order  that  in  the 
early  morning  of  the  23d  May,  1420  (loth  Sivan), 
all  the  Jews  in  his  realm  should  be  thrown  into  pri- 
son, and  this  was  promptly  done.  The  moneyed 
Jews  were  stripped  of  their  possessions,  and  the 
poor  forthwith  banished  the  country.  In  the  gaols, 
wives  were  separated  from  their  husbands,  and 
children  from  their  parents.  When  from  helpless- 
ness  they   fell   to   hopelessness,    Christian  priests 


came  to  them  with  crosses  in  their  hands  and 
honeyed  words  on  their  lips  to  convert  them.  A 
few  of  the  poorer-spirited  saved  their  Hves  by  ac- 
cepting baptism.  The  more  resolute  slew  them- 
selves and  their  kinsfolk  by  opening  their  veins 
with  straps,  cords,  or  whatever  they  found  to  hand. 
The  spirit  of  the  survivors  was  broken  by  the  length 
and  cruelty  of  their  imprisonment.  Their  children 
were  taken  from  them,  and  immured  in  cloisters. 
Still  they  remained  firm,  and  on  the  13th  March 
(9th  Nisan),  142 1,  after  nearly  a  year's  confinement, 
they  were  committed  to  the  flames.  In  Vienna  alone 
more  than  a  hundred  perished  in  one  field  near  the 
Danube.  Another  order  was  then  issued  by  Arch- 
duke Albert,  forbidding  Jews  to  stay  thenceforth  in 

The  converts  proved  no  gain  to  the  church.  The 
majority  seized  the  first  opportunity  of  emigrating 
and  relapsing  into  Judaism.  They  bent  their  steps 
to  Bohemia,  rendered  tolerant  by  the  Hussite 
schism,  or  northwards  to  Poland  and  southwards 
to  Italy.  How  attached  the  Austrian  Jews  were  to 
their  religion  is  shown  by  the  conduct  of  one  clever 
youth.  Having  received  baptism,  he  had  become 
the  favorite  of  Duke  Frederick,  afterwards  the 
German  emperor,  but,  although  living  in  luxury, 
he  was  seized  with  remorse  for  his  apostasy,  and 
boldly  expressed  his  desire  to  return  to  Judaism. 
Frederick  exerted  himself  to  dissuade  his  favorite 
from  this  idea.  He  begged,  entreated,  and  even 
threatened  him  ;  he  sent  a  priest  to  advise  him  ;  all, 
however,  in  vain.  Finally,  the  duke  handed  the 
"obstinate  heretic  and  backslider"  over  to  the 
ecclesiastical  authorities,  who  condemned  him  to 
the  stake.  Unfettered  and  with  a  Hebrew  song  on 
his  lips  the  Jewish  youth  mounted  the  scaffold. 

In  the  meantime,  the  devastating  war  broke  out 
between  the  fierce  Hussites  and  the  not  less  barbar- 
ous Roman  Catholics,  between  the  Czechs  and  the 

CH.  VII.  MAHARIL.  225 

Germans.  A  variety  of  nationalities  participated  in 
the  sanguinary  struggle  as  to  the  use  of  the  cup  by 
the  laity  in  the  eucharist.  Emperor  Sigismund,  who 
found  it  impossible  to  subdue  the  insurrection  with 
his  own  troops,  summoned  the  imperial  army  to 
his  standard.  Wild  free-lances,  men  of  Brabant  and 
Holland,  were  taken  into  his  pay.  From  all  quar- 
ters armed  troops  poured  into  the  Bohemian  valleys 
and  against  the  capital,  Prague,  where  the  blind 
hero,  Zisca,  bade  defiance  to  a  world  of  foes.  On 
the  way,  the  German  imperial  army  exhibited  its 
courage  by  attacks  on  the  defenseless  Jews.  "  We 
are  marching  afar,"  exclaimed  the  mercenaries,  "to 
avenge  our  insulted  God,  and  shall  those  who  slew 
him  be  spared?"  Wherever  they  came  across 
Jewish  communities,  on  the  Rhine,  in  Thuringia  and 
Bavaria,  they  put  them  to  the  sword,  or  forced  them 
to  apostatize.  The  crusaders  threatened,  on  their 
return  from  victory  over  the  Hussites,  to  wipe  the 
Jewish  people  from  the  face  of  the  earth.  Jewish 
fathers  of  families  true  to  their  faith  gave  orders 
that,  at  a  certain  signal,  their  children  should  be 
killed  to  avoid  falling  into  the  hands  of  the  blood- 
thirsty soldiery.  Letters  of  lamentation  over  the 
threatened  disaster,  calling  upon  him  to  implore  the 
intervention  of  heaven,  were  addressed  from  far  and 
near  to  the  illustrious  rabbi  of  Mayence,  Jacob  ben 
Moses  Molin  Halevi  (Maharil,  born  1365,  died 
1427),  the  most  pious  rabbi  of  his  time.  His 
arrangement  of  the  synagogue  ritual  and  melodies 
is  used  to  this  day  in  many  German  communities, 
and  their  colonies  in  Poland  and  Hungary.  Jacob 
Molin  ordered  a  general  fast,  accompanied  by  fer- 
vent prayer,  and  his  instructions  were  circulated 
from  one  community  to  another  throughout  the  land. 
The  German  congregations  forthwith  assembled 
for  solemn  mourning  and  humiliation,  and  fasted 
during  four  days  between  New  Year  and  Atonement 
(8th — nth  September,  142 1),  and  for  three  succes- 


sive  days  after  Tabernacles,  the  observance  being 
as  strict  as  on  the  most  sacred  fast  days  of  the 
Jewish  calendar.  It  was  a  time  of  feverish  tension 
for  the  German  Jews.  In  their  despair  they  prayed 
that  victory  might  be  vouchsafed  to  the  Hussites, 
and  it  seemed  as  if  their  supplications  were  heard. 
For,  shortly  afterwards,  the  imperial  army  and  its 
mercenary  allies  assembled  near  Saatz  were  stricken 
with  such  terror  at  the  news  of  Zisca's  approach, 
that  they  sought  safety  in  disorderly  flight,  disband- 
ing in  all  directions,  and  hurrying  home  by  different 
routes.  Famished  and  footsore,  a  few  of  the  very 
men  who  had  vowed  death  and  extirpation  to  the 
Jews,  appeared  at  the  doors  of  their  houyes,  begging 
for  bread,  which  was  gladly  given  them.  Privation 
had  so  reduced  the  fugitives  that  they  could  no* 
have  harmed  a  child. 

The  Dominican  clergy  commissioned  to  preach 
against  the  Hussites  did  not  cease  to  foster  Catholic 
hatred  of  Jews.  From  their  pulpits  they  thundered 
against  heretics  and  Jews  alike,  cautioning  the  faith- 
ful against  holding  intercourse  with  them,  and  con- 
sciously and  unconsciously  inciting  to  attacks  on 
their  persons  and  property.  The  Jews  flew  for  help 
to  the  pope,  Martin  V — doubtless  not  with  empty 
hands — and  again  obtained  a  very  favorable  bull  (23d 
February,  i42  2),in  which  Christians  were  enjoined  to 
remember  that  their  religion  had  been  inherited  from 
Jews,  who  were  necessary  for  the  corroboration  of 
Christian  truth.  The  pope  forbade  the  monks  to 
preach  against  intercourse  between  Jews  and  Chris- 
tians, and  declared  null  and  void  the  ban  with  which 
transgressors  had  been  threatened.  He  recom- 
mended to  Catholics  a  friendly  and  benevolent  atti- 
tude towards  their  Hebrew  fellow-citizens,  severely 
denounced  violent  attacks  upon  them,  and  con- 
firmed all  the  privileges  which  had  from  time  to 
time  been  granted  by  the  papacy.  This  bull  was, 
however,    as    ineffectual   as   the   protection   which 


Emperor  Sigismund  had  so  solemnly  promised  the 
Jews.  A  persecuting  spirit  continued  to  animate 
the  Christian  church.  The  monks  did  not  cease  to 
declaim  against  the  "  accursed  "  Jewish  nation  ;  the 
populace  did  not  refrain  from  tormenting,  injuring 
and  murdering  Jews  ;  even  succeeding  popes  ignored 
the  bull,  and  restored  the  odious  canonical  restric- 
tions in  all  their  stringency.  Turning  a  deaf  ear  to 
both  pope  and  emperor,  the  citizens  of  Cologne 
expelled  the  Jewish  community,  perhaps  the  oldest 
in  Germany.  The  exiles  took  up  their  abode  at 
Deutz  (1426).  In  the  South  German  towns,  Ravens- 
burg,  Ueberlingen  and  Lindau,  the  Jews  were  burnt 
because  of  a  lying  blood  accusation  (1431). 

The  literary  work  of  the  German  Jews  was,  as  a 
consequence,  poor  and  inconsiderable.  Anxiety 
and  persecution  had  deadened  their  intellect.  Even 
in  Talmudical  study  the  German  rabbis  hardly  rose 
above  mediocrity,  and  gave  nothing  of  consequence 
to  the  world.  Some  rabbis  were  installed  by  the 
reigning  prince ;  at  least  Emperor  Sigismund  com- 
missioned one  of  his  Jewish  agents,  Chayim  of 
Landshut,  "to  appoint  three  rabbis  (Judenmeister) 
in  Germany."  Under  such  auspices,  appointments 
were  probably  determined  less  by  merit  than  by 
money.  For  a  college,  in  which  students  were  pre- 
pared for  the  rabbinate,  a  heavy  tax  had  to  be  paid, 
notwithstanding  that  the  instruction  was  given  grat- 
uitously. Besides  Jacob  Molin,  only  one  name  of 
importance  emerges  from  the  darkness  of  this 
period,  Menachem  of  Merseburg,  or,  as  he  was 
generally  called,  Meil  Zedek.  He  wrote  a  compre- 
hensive work  on  the  practice  of  the  Talmudic  mar- 
riage and  civil  law,  which  the  Saxon  communities 
adopted  for  their  authoritative  guidance.  He,  at 
least,  departed  from  the  beaten  track  of  his  older 
contemporaries  or  teachers,  Jacob  Molin  and  Isaac 
Tyrnau,  who  attached  value  to  every  insignificant 
detail  of  the  liturgy.      By  and  by  Menachem  of 


Merseburg  was  recognized  as  an  authority,  and  an 
excellent  regulation  drawn  up  by  him  received  uni- 
versal assent.  Among  the  Jews  at  that  period, 
marriages  took  place  at  a  very  early  age ;  girls  in 
their  teens  were  hurried  into  matrimony.  Accord- 
ing to  Talmudical  law  a  girl,  under  age,  who  had 
been  given  in  marriage  by  her  mother  or  brothers 
and  not  by  her  father,  was  permitted,  on  attaining 
her  majority,  in  her  twelfth  year,  and  even  much 
later  under  some  circumstances,  to  dissolve  her 
union  without  further  ceremony  than  a  declaration 
of  her  intention  to  do  so,  or  the  contracting  of 
another  marriage  (Miun).  Menachem  of  Merse- 
burg felt  the  indecency  of  so  sudden  and  often  ca- 
pricious a  dissolution  of  marriage,  and  he  decided 
that  formal  bills  of  divorce  should  be  required. 

The  literary  achievements  of  the  Spanish  Jews 
during  this  period  were  not  of  a  higher  character ; 
they  exhibited  unmistakable  signs  of  decay,  notwith- 
standing that  their  situation  had  become  more  toler- 
able since  the  death  of  the  bigoted  and  wanton 
queen  regent,  Catalina,  and  the  fall  of  the  anti-pope, 
Benedict  XIII,  and  his  Jewish  accomplices.  Don 
Juan  II — or,  rather,  his  favorite,  Alvaro  de  Luna,  to 
whom  the  manao-ement  of  the  state  was  confided — 
stood  too  much  in  need  of  the  assistance  of  Jewish 
financiers  during  the  frequently  recurring  civil  wars 
and  insurrections  to  do  anything  to  offend  them. 
Hence,  during  his  reign,  restrictive  laws  against  the 
Jews  seem  to  have  been  enacted  only  to  be  broken, 
Jews  were  again  admitted  to  public  employment, 
regardless  of  the  fact  that  such  appointments  had 
been  sternly  forbidden  both  by  kings  and  popes.  An 
influential  Jew,  Abraham  Benveniste,  surnamed 
Senior,  distinguished  for  his  intelligence  and  wealth, 
was  invested  with  a  high  dignity  at  the  court  of  Don 
Juan,  and  was  thus  in  a  position  to  frustrate  threat- 
ened persecutions  of  his  co-religionists.  Also  Joseph 
ben  Shem  Tob  Ibn-Shem  Tob,  a  cultivated  and  fruit- 


ful  writer,  proficient  in  philosophic  studies,  was  in 
the  service  of  the  state  under  Juan  II.  On  the  one 
hand,  the  cortes  did  not  fail  to  remind  the  king  that 
by  his  father's  laws  and  by  papal  decrees  the  Jews 
were  excluded  from  public  offices,  and,  on  the  other 
hand.  Pope  Eugenius  IV,  successor  to  Martin  V, 
strained  every  effort  to  humiliate  the  Jews  and  har- 
den their  lot,  even  forbidding  Don  Juan  to  befriend 
them ;  but  these  representations  were  of  no  avail. 
To  the  cortes  of  Burgos  the  king  replied  evasively 
that  he  would  cause  an  examination  to  be  made  of 
the  laws  promulgated  in  regard  to  the  Jews  by  his 
father,  and  of  the  papal  bulls,  and  he  would  take  care 
to  observe  everything  calculated  to  promote  the  ser- 
vice of  God  and  the  welfare  of  the  state.  Against 
the  pope's  interference  with  his  crown-rights  he  en- 
tered a  protest. 

This  king  gave  permission  to  the  no  less  noble 
than  wealthy  rabbi,  Abraham  Benveniste,  to  hold  a 
meeting  of  delegates  from  various  communities  in 
the  royal  palace  of  Avila  (1432).  These  delegates 
were  to  bring  harmony  into  the  state  of  moral  and 
religious  disorder  caused  by  the  attacks  of  the 
masses  in  141 2 — 1415.  The  smaller  communities 
were  without  teachers,  the  large  ones  without  rabbis 
and  preachers.  Many  of  them  had  been  reduced  to 
poverty,  and  the  richer  members  were  unwilling  to 
contribute  to  the  support  of  religious  institutions. 
Evil  ways  and  denunciations  by  the  unscrupulous 
had  acquired  the  upper  hand,  because  the  represen- 
tative men  and  the  few  rabbis  did  not  venture  to 
punish  the  evildoers.  Abraham  Benveniste,  there- 
fore, framed  a  statute  (the  law  of  Avila),  which  com- 
pelled people  to  establish  schools  and  colleges,  to 
introduce  order  into  the  communities,  and  to  punish 
miscreants.     Juan  II  confirmed  this  statute. 

The  literature  of  the  Spanish  Jews,  however,  was 
powerless  to  recover  itself.  Despite  the  calm  suc- 
ceeding the  storm,  it  seemed  to  wither  like  autumn 


leaves.  The  decline  was  most  marked  in  the  de- 
partment of  Talmudic  study.  After  the  emigration 
of  Isaac  ben  Sheshet  and  the  death  of  Chasdai 
Crescas,  no  Spanish  rabbi  obtained  more  than  local 
authority  and  reputation.  The  only  upholder  of  the 
traditions  of  the  rabbinate  was  Isaac  ben  Jacob  Cam- 
panton,  who  lived  to  be  more  than  a  hundred  years 
old  (born  1360,  died  at  Pefiafiel  1463);  but  he  pro- 
duced only  one  work  (Darke  ha-Talmud),  which 
exhibited  neither  genius  nor  learning.  Still,  in  his 
day,  Campanton  passed  for  the  Gaon  of  Castile. 
Neo-Hebraic  poetry,  which  had  blossomed  so  pro- 
fusely on  Spanish  soil,  faded  and  drooped.  Of  those 
who  cultivated  it  during  this  period  only  a  few  are 
remembered — Solomon  Dafiera,  Don  Vidal  Ben- 
veniste,  the  leading  speaker  on  the  Jewish  side  at 
the  disputation  of  Tortosa,  and  Solomon  Bonfed. 
The  most  gifted  was  the  last.  He  was  ambitious 
to  emulate  Ibn-Gebirol;  but  he  possessed  little  more 
than  the  sensitiveness  and  moroHeness  of  his  great 
exemplar,  like  him  imagining  himself  to  be  the 
sport  of  fortune,  with  a  prescriptive  right  to  lamen- 

The  Jews  of  Italy  failed  to  distinguish  themselves 
in  poetry  even  during  the  Medici  period,  in  spite  of 
the  hiofh  culture  which,  with  the  Hussite  movement, 
was  eating  away  the  foundations  of  mediaeval 
Catholicism.  Since  Immanuel  Romi,  the  Jews  of 
Italy  had  produced  but  one  poet ;  even  he  was  not 
a  poet  in  the  noblest  sense  of  the  word.  Moses 
ben  Isaac  (Gajo)  da  Rieti,  of  Perugia  (born  1388, 
died  after  145 1),  a  physician  by  profession,  a  dab- 
bler in  philosophy,  and  a  graceful  writer  in  both 
Hebrew  and  Italian,  might  have  passed  for  an  artist 
if  poetry  were  a  thing  of  meter  and  rhyme,  for  in 
his  sublimely  conceived  poem  both  were  faultless. 
His  desire  was  to  glorify  in  poetry  Judaism  and 
Jewish  antiquity,  the  sciences,  and  the  illustrious 
men  of  all  ages.     He  employed  an  ingenious  form 

CH.  VI t  MOSES   DA   RIETI.  2$ I 

of  verse,  in  which  the  stanzas  were  connected  by 
threes  by  means  of  cross-rhymes.  But  Da  Rieti's 
language  is  often  rough,  many  of  his  allusions  show 
want  of  taste,  and  where  he  should  rise  to  lofty 
thought  he  sinks  into  puerilities.  Only  in  one  re- 
spect does  his  work  mark  an  advance  in  neo- 
Hebrew  poetry.  He  breaks  entirely  with  the  tra- 
ditional Judaeo-Arabic  method  of  a  single  rhyme. 
There  is  variety  in  his  versification  ;  the  ear  is  not 
wearied  by  monotonous  repetition  of  the  sameor  simi- 
lar sounds,  and  the  lines  fall  naturally  into  stanzas. 
He  also  avoids  playing  on  Biblical  verses,  the  objec- 
tionable habit  of  Judaeo-Spanish  poets.  In  a  word, 
Da  Rieti  supplied  the  correct  form  for  neo- Hebrew 
poetry,  but  he  was  unable  to  vivify  it  with  an  attrac- 
tive spirit.  Yet  the  Italian  Jews  adopted  a  part  of 
his  poem  into  their  liturgy,  and  recited  extracts  daily. 
From  the  Apennine  Peninsula  let  us  turn  back  to 
the  Pyrenean,  where  the  pulsation  of  historic  life 
among  the  Jews,  though  gradually  becoming  weaker, 
still   was  stronger  than    in  the   other  countries  in 

which  they  were  dispersed.  The  two  branches  of 
intellectual  activity  which  formerly,  in  their  palmy 
days,  had  exercised  every  mind — the  severe  study 
of  the  Talmud  and  the  airy  pursuit  of  the  poetic 
muse — had  lost  their  predominance  in  the  Spanish 
Jewries.  The  systematic  study  of  the  Scriptures 
also  was  no  longer  properly  cultivated.  The  literary 
activity  of  this  period  was  almost  exclusively  di- 
rected towards  combating  the  intrusiveness  of  the 
church,  repelling  its  attacks  on  Judaism,  and  with 
standing  its  proselytizing  zeal.  Faithful  and  strong- 
minded  Jewish  thinkers  held  it  a  duty  to  proclaim 
their  convictions  aloud,  and  to  admonish  waverers 
and  strengthen  them.  The  more  the  preaching 
monks,  especially  apostates  of  the  stamp  of  Paul  de 
Santa  Maria,  Geronimo  de  Santa  Fe,  and  Pedro  de 
la  Caballeria,  exerted  themselves  to  prove  that  the 
Christian  Trinity  was  the  true  God  of  Israel,  taught 


and  typified  in  the  Bible  and  the  Talmud,  and  the 
more  the  church  stretched  forth  its  tentacles  towards 
the  Jews,  straining  every  nerve  to  fold  them  in  its 
fatal  embrace,  the  more  necessary  was  it  for  the 
synagogue  to  watch  over  its  sacred  trust,  and  guard 
its  holy  of  holies  from  idolatrous  desecration.  It  was 
especially  necessary  that  the  weaker-minded  should 
be  spared  confusion  in  religious  and  doctrinal  mat- 
ters. Hence  Jewish  preachers  devoted  themselves 
more  than  ever  to  expounding  the  doctrine  of  the 
unity  of  God  in  their  pulpits.  They  pointed  out  the 
essential  and  irreconcilable  difference  between  the 
Jewish  and  the  Christian  conception  of  the  Deity, 
and  characterized  their  identification  as  false  and 
impious.  The  time  resembled  that  other  epoch  in 
Jewish  history  when  Hellenized  Jews  tried  to  induce 
their  brethren  to  deny  God,  and  were  supported  by 
the  secular  arm.  Some  preachers,  in  their  zeal, 
went  to  extremes.  Instead  of  relying  exclusively 
on  the  convincing  demonstrations  in  the  Bible  text, 
or  on  the  attractive  illustrations  of  the  Agada,  they 
resorted  to  the  armory  of  scholasticism,  employing 
the  formulae  of  philosophy  and,  in  the  presence  of 
the  Torah,  and  by  the  side  of  the  Hebrew  prophets 
and  the  Talmudical  sages,  quoted  Plato,  Aristotle, 
and  Averroes. 

This  controversial  literature,  cultivated  on  a  large 
scale,  was  designed  to  defend  Judaism  against  cal- 
umny and  abuse,  rather  than  to  convert  a  single 
Christian  soul.  Its  aim  was  to  open  the  eyes  of 
Jews,  so  that  ignorance  or  credulity  might  not  lead 
them  into  the  snares  prepared  for  them.  Doubtless 
it  also  desired  to  stir  up  the  new-Christians,  and  to 
re-animate  their  Jewish  spirit  beneath  the  disguise 
they  had  assumed  to  save  their  lives.  Hence  the 
majority  of  the  polemical  writings  of  the  day  were 
merely  vindications  of  Judaism  from  the  old  charges 
fulminated  by  Nicholas  de  Lyra  a  century  before,  or 
more  recently  by  Geronimo  de  Santa  F6  and  others, 


and  widely  circulated  by  the  Christian  clergy.  Solo- 
mon-Paul of  Burgos,  who  had  been  appointed  bishop 
of  his  native  town,  wrote,  in  his  eighty-second  year 
(1434,  a  year  before  his  death),  a  venomous  tract 
against  Judaism — "  Searching  the  Scriptures  "  (Scru- 
tinium  Scriptuarum) — in  the  form  of  a  dialogue 
between  a  teacher  and  his  pupil,  the  unbelieving 
Saul  and  the  converted  Paul.  Solomon-Paul  does 
not  seem  to  have  retained  much  of  the  wit  which, 
according  to  Jewish  and  Christian  panegyrists,  had 
at  one  time  distinguished  him — it  had  probably  be- 
come blunted  amid  the  luxurious  ease  of  the  episco- 
pal palace — for  his  tract,  devoutly  Christian  and 
Catholic  in  tone,  is  pointless  and  dull.  Another 
ex-rabbi  who  devoted  himself  to  attacking  Judaism 
was  Juan  de  Espana,  also  called  Juan  the  Old  (at 
Toledo),  a  convert  who  in  old  age  had  embraced 
Christianity  under  the  influence  of  Vincent  Ferrer's 
proselytizing  efforts.  He  wrote  a  treatise  on  his 
own  conversion  and  a  Christian  commentary  on  the 
seventy-second  Psalm,  in  both  of  which  he  asserted 
the  genuineness  of  his  change  of  creed,  and  urged 
the  Jews  to  abjure  their  errors.  How  many  weak- 
minded  Jews  must  have  been  influenced  by  the  zeal, 
earnest  or  hypocritical,  of  such  men  as  these,  be- 
longing to  their  own  race,  and  learned  in  their  lit- 

It  is  impossible  to  exaggerate  the  services  of  the 
men  who,  deeply  impressed  with  the  gravity  of  the 
crisis,  threw  themselves  into  the  breach,  with  exhor- 
tations to  their  co-religionists  to  remain  faithful  to 
their  creed.  In  defiance  of  the  dangers  which  men- 
aced them,  they  scattered  their  inspiriting  discourses 
far  and  wide.  Foremost  among  them  were  the  men 
who  had  distinguished  themselves  at  the  Tortosa 
disputation  by  their  unyielding  attitude  and  their 
courage  in  withstanding  the  unjustifiable  attacks 
upon  the  Talmud — Don  Vidal  (Ferrer)  Ibn-Labi 
and  Joseph  Albo.     The  former  drew  up  in  Hebrew 

234  HISTORY   OF  THE   JF.WS.  CH.  VII. 

a  refutation  of  Geronimo's  impeachment  of  the 
Talmud  (Kodesh  ha-Kodashim),  and  the  latter  cir- 
culated, in  Spanish,  an  account  of  a  religious  con- 
troversy he  had  sustained  with  an  eminent  church 
dignitary.  Isaac  ben  Kalonymos,  of  a  learned  Pro- 
vencal family  named  Nathan,  who  associated  a  great 
deal  with  learned  Christians,  and  frequently  had  to 
defend  his  religious  convictions,  wrote  two  polem- 
ical works,  one  entitled  "  Correction  of  the  False 
Teacher,"  directed  against  Geronimo's  libelous 
essay,  and  the  other,  called  "The  Fortress,"  of 
unknown  purpose.  He  also  compiled  a  laborious 
work  of  reference  intended  to  assist  others  in  de- 
fending Judaism  from  attack.  Isaac  Nathan,  in  his 
intercourse  with  Christians,  often  had  to  listen  to 
criticisms  of  Judaism,  or  evidences  drawn  from  the 
Hebrew  Bible,  in  favor  of  Christian  dogmas,  which 
he  found  were  always  based  on  false  renderings  of 
Hebrew  words.  To  put  an  end  to  these  illusory 
outgrowths  of  prevailing  ignorance  of  the  original 
text  of  the  Scriptures,  or,  at  least,  to  lighten  the 
labors  of  his  brethren  in  refuting  them,  he  resolved 
to  compile  a  comprehensive  digest  of  the  linguistic 
materials  of  the  Bible,  by  which  the  actual  meaning 
of  each  word  should  be  made  clear.  According 
to  the  plan  adopted,  any  one  can  ascertain,  at  a 
glance,  both  how  often  a  certain  word  occurs  in  the 
Bible,  and  its  varying  meanings  according  to  the 
contexts.  The  work  thus  undertaken  by  Isaac 
Nathan  was  of  colossal  scope,  and  occupied  a  long 
series  of  years  (September,  1437 — 1445).  It  was  a 
Bible  concordance,  that  is,  the  verses  were  grouped 
alphabetically  under  the  reference  words  according 
to  roots  and  derivations.  The  existing  Latin  con- 
cordances served  in  a  measure  as  models,  although 
their  purpose  was  the  less  ambitious  one  of  assist- 
ing preachers  to  find  texts.  Isaac  Nathan,  who 
produced  various  other  works,  by  this  concordance 
rendered    inestimable   and   lasting   service   to   the 


Study  of  the  Bible,  although  his  labor  was  of  a 
purely  mechanical  kind.  Originating  from  the  tem- 
porary needs  of  the  polemical  situation,  it  has  been, 
and  will  ever  remain,  a  powerful  weapon  for  ensur- 
ing the  triumph  of  Judaism  in  its  struggles  with 
other  religious  systems. 

The  philosopher,  Joseph  Ibn-Shem  Tob  (born 
1400,  died  a  martyr  1460),  who  was  a  voluminous 
writer,  a  popular  preacher,  and  a  frequenter  of  the 
Castilian  court,  also  entered  the  lists  against  Chris- 
tianity to  expose  the  fallacy  and  unreasonableness 
of  its  dogmas.  In  his  frequent  intercourse  with 
Christians  of  distinction,  both  clerical  and  lay,  he 
found  it  necessary  to  make  himself  thoroughly 
acquainted  with  Christian  theology  that  he  might 
adduce  cogent  arguments  in  reply  to  those  who 
wished  to  convert  him,  or  in  his  presence  made  the 
oft- reiterated  statement  of  the  falsity  of  Judaism. 
Occasionally  a  regular  controversy  in  defense  of 
his  creed  was  forced  upon  him.  The  fruits  of  his 
studies  and  thought  he  committed  to  writing  in  the 
shape  of  a  small  treatise,  entitled  "  Doubts  of  the 
Religion  of  Jesus,"  in  which  he  criticised  with  un- 
sparing logic  the  dogmas  of  Original  Sin,  Salvation, 
and  Incarnation.  Besides,  he  wrote,  for  the  in- 
struction of  his  brethren,  a  detailed  commentary 
on  Profiat  Duran's  satire  on  Christianity,  and  made 
available  for  them,  by  means  of  a  Hebrew  transla- 
tion, Chasdai  Crescas'  polemical  work  against  the 
Christian  religion,  originally  written  in  Spanish. 
Strange  to  say,  the  Spanish  Jews  preferred,  as  a 
rule,  Hebrew  books  to  those  in  the  language  of 
their  adopted  country. 

Among  the  authors  of  polemical  works  against 
Christianity  a  contemporary  of  Joseph  Ibn-Shem 
Tob  deserves  special  mention.  History  has  hitherto 
forgotten  Chayim  Ibn-Musa,  from  Bejar,  in  the 
neighborhood  of  Salamanca  (born  about  1 390,  died 
about   1460),  a  physican,  versifier  and  writer,  who 


had  access  to  the  Spanish  court  and  the  grandees 
through  his  medical  skill,  and  so,  frequent  oppor- 
tunities  of  discussing  questions  of  doctrine   with 
ecclesiastics  and  learned  laymen.     A  colloquy  pre- 
served by  Chayim   Ibn-Musa  illustrates  the  spirit 
which  prevailed  in  Spain  before  the  hateful  Inquisi- 
tion  silenced   all   freedom   of  speech.     A  learned 
ecclesiastic  once  asked  Ibn-Musa  why,  if  Judaism,  as 
he  maintained,  was  the  true  faith,  the  Jews  could 
not   possess   themselves   of  the    Holy  Land    and 
Jerusalem  ?     Ibn  Musa  replied  that  they  had  lost 
their   country   through   the    sins   of  their   fathers, 
and  could  regain  it  only  by  perfect  atonement  and 
purgation.     He,  in   turn,  propounded   a   question : 
Why  are  the  Christians  no  longer  in  possession  of 
the  Holy  Sepulcher?  and  why  does  it,  together  with 
all  the  sites  associated  with  the  Passion,  continue  in 
the  hands  of  Mahometan  infidels,  notwithstanding 
that  Christians,  by  means  of  confession  and  absolu- 
tion, and  through  the  medium  of  the  nearest  availa- 
ble priest,  can  free  themselves  at  any  moment  from 
sin  ?     Before  the  ecclesiastic  could  bethink  himself 
of  a  suitable  reply,  a  knight,  who  had  formerly  been 
in  Palestine,  interposed:  The   Mahometans  are  the 
only  people  who  deserve  to  possess  the  site  of  the 
Temple  and  the  Holy  Land,  for  neither  Christians 
nor  Jews  hold  houses  of  prayer  in  so  much  honor 
as  they.     The  Christians,  during  the  night  before 
Easter  (Vigils),   perpetrate  shameful  abominations 
in  the  churches  at  Jerusalem,  abandon  themselves 
to  debauchery,  harbor  thieves  and  murderers,  and 
carry  on  bloody  feuds  within  their  precincts.    They 
dishonor  their  character  in  the  same  way  as  the 
Jews  profaned  their  Temple.     Therefore,  God,  in 
His  wisdom,  has  deprived  the  Jews  and  the  Chris- 
tians of  the  Holy  City,  and  has  intrusted  it  to  the 
Mahometans,  because,    in   their   hands,  it   is   safe 
from  desecration.     To  his  observation  the  Christian 
priest  and  the  Jewish  physician  could  oppose  only 
abashed  silence. 

CH.  VII.  CHAYIM    IBN-MUSA.  237 

Chayim  Ibn-Musa  devoted  himself  to  the  task  of 
discrediting  the  chief  sources  of  the  materials  of 
Christian  attacks  on  Judaism,  the  writings  of  the 
Franciscan  Nicholas  de  Lyra.  He  not  only  refuted 
the  assertions  put  forward  in  those  works,  but  de- 
prived them  of  the  soil  upon  which  they  fed.  The 
ever-recurring  controversies  between  Jews  and 
Christians  led  to  no  conclusions,  and  left  each  party 
in  the  belief  that  it  had  gained  a  victory,  because 
they  generally  turned  on  secondary  questions,  the 
disputants  never  discussing  fundamental  premises, 
but  wrangling,  each  from  his  undemonstrated  basis. 
Chayim  Ibn-Musa  wished  to  introduce  method  into 
these  controversies,  and  to  lay  down  clear  princi- 
ples for  the  defense  of  Judaism.  Accordingly,  he 
drew  up  rules  which,  strictly  observed,  were  bound 
to  lead  to  a  definite  result.  In  the  first  place,  he 
advised  Jews  invariably  to  hold  fast  in  a  disputation 
to  the  simple  meaning  of  the  Scriptures,  always 
to  take  the  context  into  account,  and  especially  to 
avoid  allegorical  or  symbolical  methods  of  interpre- 
tation, which  left  Christian  polemics  free  to  intro- 
duce arbitrary  theories.  Further,  Jewish  disputants 
were  to  announce  that  they  ascribed  no  authority  in 
matters  of  belief  either  to  the  Chaldaic  translation 
of  the  Bible  (Targum)  or  to  the  Greek  (Septuagint), 
these  being  the  sources  of  the  false  proofs  adduced 
by  Christians.  He  counseled  them  to  abandon  even 
Agadic  exegesis,  and  not  to  hesitate  to  declare  that 
it  had  no  weight  in  determining  the  doctrines  of 
Judaism.  These  and  similar  rules  Chayim  Ibn- 
Musa  applied  to  this  writings  of  Nicholas  de  Lyra, 
successfully  refuting  them  from  beginning  to  end  in 
a  comprehensive  work,  justly  entitled  "  Shield  and 

The  anti-Christian  polemical  literature  of  this 
period  was  further  enriched  by  two  writers,  father 
and  son,  living  in  Algiers,  far  removed  from  the 
scenes  of  the   Christian  propaganda.     But  Simon 


ben  Zemach  Duran  and  his  son,  Solomon  Duran, 
were  Spaniards  by  birth  and  education.  In  his 
philosophic  exposition  of  Judaism,  the  former  de- 
voted a  chapter  to  Christianity,  maintaining,  in  an- 
swer to  Christian  and  Mahometan  objections,  the 
inviolability  of  the  Torah.  This  chapter,  entitled 
"Bow  and  Buckler,"  and  described  as  being  "for 
defense  and  attack,"  proves  the  contention  of  older 
writers,  and  more  recently  of  Profiat  Duran,  that 
Jesus'  intention  was  not  to  abolish  Judaism.  The 
rabbi  of  Algiers  exhibits  extraordinarily  wide 
acquaintance  with  the  literature  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment and  thorough  familiarity  with  church  doctrine, 
combats  each  with  weapons  taken  from  its  own 
arsenal,  and  criticises  unsparingly. 

Solomon  Duran  I  (born  about  1400,  died  1467), 
who  succeeded  his  father  in  the  Algerian  rabbinate, 
combined  with  profound  Talmudic  knowledge  a 
decided  leaning  towards  a  rationalistic  apprehension 
of  Judaism.  Unlike  his  father  and  his  ancestor, 
Nachmani,  he  was  a  sworn  enemy  of  the  Kabbala. 
During  his  father's  lifetime  and  at  his  request,  he 
wrote  a  refutation  of  the  shameless,  lying  accusa- 
tions brought  against  the  Talmud  by  Geronimo  de 
Santa  Fe.  In  an  exhaustive  treatise  ("Letter  on  the 
Conflict  of  Duties  "  )  he  deals  sharply  with  Geroni- 
mo's  sallies.  He  repels  the  accusation  that  the 
Talmud  teaches  lewdness,  and  proves  that  it  really 
inculcates  extreme  continence.  Jews  who  regulate 
their  Hves  according  to  Talmudical  prescriptions 
scrupulously  abstain  from  carnal  sins,  holding  them 
in  great  abhorrence,  and  pointing  with  scorn  at 
persons  guilty  of  them.  How,  asks  Solomon  Duran, 
can  Christians  reproach  Jews  with  unchastity — they, 
whose  holiest  men  daily  commit  sins  which  dare  not 
be  mentioned  to  modest  ears,  and  which  have 
become  proverbial  as  "  Monk's  sin "  (peccato  dei 

Religious  philosophy,  which  had  been  raised  to 

CH.  VII.  JOSEPH    ALSO.  239 

the  perfection  of  a  science  only  by  Jewish-Spanish 
thinkers,  had  its  last  cultivators  in  Spain  during  this 
period.  The  same  men  who  protected  Judaism 
against  the  onslaughts  of  Christianity  defended  it 
against  benighted  Jews  who  wished  to  banish  light, 
and,  like  the  Dominicans,  desired  to  establish  blind 
faith  in  the  place  of  reason  and  judgment  Zealots 
like  Shem  Tob  Ibn-Shem  Tob  and  others,  biased  by 
their  narrow  Talmudical  education,  and  misled  by 
the  Kabbala,  saw  in  scientific  inquiry  a  byroad  to 
heresy.  Perceiving  that  for  the  most  part  cultivated 
Jews  succumbed  to  the  proselytizing  efforts  of 
Vincent  Ferrer  and  Pope  Benedict,  men  of  the 
stamp  of  Shem  Tob  were  confirmed  in  their  belief 
that  philosophic  culture,  nay,  reflection  on  a  relig- 
ious topic,  irretrievably  lead  to  apostasy.  The  logical 
result  of  religious  impeachment  of  science  was  the 
condemnation  of  Maimuni  and  all  the  Jewish  think- 
ers who  had  allowed  reason  to  have  weight  in 
religious  questions.  Against  this  form  of  bigotry 
Joseph  Albo  entered  the  lists  with  a  complete 
religio-philosophical  work  (Ikkarim,  "fundamental 
teachings"),  in  which  he  attempted  to  separate  the 
essential  doctrines  of  Judaism  from  the  non-essen- 
tial, and  to  fix  the  boundary  line  between  belief  and 

Joseph  Albo  (born  about  1380,  died  about  1444), 
of  Monreal,  one  of  the  principal  representatives  of 
Judaism  at  the  Tortosa  disputation,  who,  probably 
through  the  intolerance  of  Pope  Benedict,  had  emi- 
grated to  Soria,  was  a  physician  and  a  pupil  of 
Chasdai  Crescas,  hence  well  acquainted  with  the 
physical  sciences  and  the  philosophic  thought  of  his 
time.  Although  a  strict  adherent  of  Talmudical 
Judaism,  he  was,  like  his  teacher,  not  averse  to  phi- 
losophic ideas.  Indeed,  he  tried  to  reconcile  them, 
without,  of  course,  permitting  Judaism  to  yield  a  jot 
to  philosophy.  Albo  had  not,  however,  the  pro- 
fundity of  his  teacher;  as  a  thinker  he  was  super- 


ficial,  commonplace,  and  incapable  of  writing  with 
logical  sequence.  On  the  advice  of  his  friends,  he 
undertook  to  investigate  in  how  far  freedom  of 
inquiry  in  religious  matters  was  possible  within  the 
limits  of  Judaism.  At  the  same  time  he  wished  to 
fix  the  number  of  articles  of  faith  and  to  decide  the 
question  whether  the  number  thirteen  adopted  by 
Maimuni  was  correct,  orwhetheritcould  be  increased 
or  lessened  without  justly  bringing  a  charge  of  heresy 
on  him  who  made  the  change.  Thus  originated  his 
religio-philosophical  system,  the  last  on  Spanish  soil. 
Albo's  style  differs  widely  from  that  of  his  predeces- 
sors. He  was  a  preacher — one  of  the  cleverest  and 
most  graceful — and  this  circumstance  exercised 
marked  influence  on  his  method  of  exposition.  It 
is  easy,  comprehensible,  popular  and  captivating. 
Albo  has  the  knack  of  explaining  every  philosophic 
idea  by  a  striking  illustration,  and  of  developing  it 
by  skillful  employment  of  Bible  verses  and  Agadic 
aphorisms.  What  his  style  thus  gained,  on  the  one 
hand,  in  intelligibility  and  popularity,  it  lost,  on  the 
other,  through  a  certain  redundancy  and  shallowness. 
It  is  a  remakable  fact  that  Albo,  who  thought  that 
he  was  developing  his  religio-philosophical  system 
exclusively  in  the  native  spirit  of  Judaism,  placed  at 
its  head  a  principle  of  indubitably  Christian  origin; 
so  powerfully  do  surroundings  affect  even  those  who 
exert  themselves  to  throw  off  such  Influence.  The 
religious  philosopher  of  Soria  propounded  as  his 
fundamental  idea  that  salvation  was  the  whole  aim 
of  man  in  this  life,  and  that  Judaism  strongly  empha- 
sized this  aspect  of  religion.  His  teacher,  Chasdai 
Crescas,  and  others,  had  considered  man's  aim 
the  bliss  of  the  future  life,  to  be  found  in  proximity 
to  the  Deity  and  In  the  union  of  the  soul  with  the 
all-pervading  spirit  of  God.  According  to  Albo 
highest  happiness  consists  not  so  much  In  the 
exaltation  of  the  soul  as  in  its  salvation.  That  is 
the  nucleus  of  Albo's  religio-philosophical  system. 

CH.  VIL  "  IKKARIM."  24I 

Man  attains  only  after  death  the  perfection  for  which 
he  is  destined  by  God ;  for  this  higher  hfe  his  mun- 
dane existence  is  but  a  preparation.  How  can  he 
best  utiHze  his  term  of  preparation ?  There  are  three 
kinds  of  institutions  for  the  reclamation  of  man  from 
barbarism  and  his  advancement  to  civilization.  The 
first  is  Natural  Law,  a  sort  of  social  compact  to  ab- 
stain from  theft,  rapine  and  homicide ;  the  second  is 
State  Legislation,  which  cares  for  order  and  morals; 
and  the  third  is  Philosophical  Law,  which  aims  at 
promoting  the  enduring  happiness  of  man,  or,  at 
least,  at  removing  obstacles  in  the  way  of  its  realiza- 
tion. All  these  institutions,  even  when  highly  de- 
veloped, are  powerless  to  assist  the  real  welfare  of 
man,  the  redemption  of  his  soul,  his  beatitude ;  for 
they  concern  themselves  only  with  actions,  with 
proper  conduct,  but  do  nothing  to  inculcate  the  views 
or  supply  the  principles  which  are  to  be  the  main- 
springs of  action.  If  the  highest  aim  of  man  be 
eternal  life  or  beatitude  after  death,  then  there  must 
be  a  Divine  Legislation,  without  which  man  in  this 
world  must  always  be  groping  in  darkness  and  miss- 
ing his  highest  destiny.  This  Divine  Legislation 
must  supply  all  the  perfections  lacking  in  its  mun- 
dane counterpart.  It  must  have  for  its  postulate  a 
perfect  God,  who  both  wishes  and  is  able  to  promote 
the  redemption  of  man  ;  it  must  further  bear  wit- 
ness to  the  certainty  that  this  God  has  revealed  an 
unalterable  Law  calculated  to  secure  the  happiness 
of  man ;  and  finally  it  must  appoint  a  suitable  re- 
quital for  actions  and  intentions.  Hence  this  Divine 
Legislation  has  three  fundamental  principles:  the 
Existence  of  God,  the  Revelation  of  His  Will,  and 
just  Retribution  after  Death.  These  are  the  three 
pillars  on  which  it  rests,  and  it  requires  none  other. 
Judaism,  then,  according  to  Albo,  is  a  discipline 
for  eternal  salvation.  It  is  "  the  Divine  Legislation" 
(Dath  Elohith),  and,  as  such,  comprises  many  reli- 
gious laws — 613  according  to  the  customary  calcula- 

242  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

tion — to  enable  each  individual  to  promote  his  own 
salvation.  For  even  a  single  religious  precept  fulfilled 
with  intelligence  and  devotion,  and  without  mental 
reservation  or  ulterior  motive,  entitles  man  to  sal- 
vation. Consequently,  the  Torah,  with  its  numer- 
ous prescriptions,  is  not  intended  as  a  burden  for  its 
disciples,  nor  are  the  Jews  threatened,  as  Christian 
teachers  maintain,  with  a  curse  in  the  event  of  their 
not  observing  the  entire  number  of  commandments. 
On  the  contrary,  the  object  is  to  render  easy  the 
path  to  higher  perfection.  Therefore,  the  Agada 
says  that  every  Israelite  has  a  share  in  Eternal  Life 
(Olam  ha-ba),  for  each  one  can  obtain  this  end  by 
the  fulfillment  of  a  single  religious  duty. 

Arrived  at  this  point,  the  religious  philosopher  of 
Soria  propounds  the  question  whether  Judaism  can 
ever  be  altered  as  previous  dispensations  were  by  the 
Sinaitic  Revelation.  This  question  required  specially 
careful  consideration,  as  Christians  always  maintained 
that  Christianity  was  a  new  revelation,  as  Judaism 
had  been  in  its  time;  that  the  "New  Covenant" 
took  the  place  of  the  "  Old,"  and  that  by  the  Gospel, 
the  Torah  had  been  fulfilled,  i.  e.,  abrogated.  Albo 
had  acknowledged  the  existence  of  rudimentary 
revelations  previous  to  that  of  Sinai,  and  to  avoid 
being  entrapped  by  the  consequences  of  his  own 
system  he  put  forward  a  peculiar  distinction.  That 
which  God  had  once  revealed  by  His  own  mouth 
direct  to  man  was,  by  virtue  of  that  fact,  unalter- 
able and  binding  for  all  time;  but  that  which  had 
been  communicated  only  by  a  prophetic  intermedi- 
ary might  suffer  change  or  even  annulment.  The 
Ten  Commandments  which  the  Israelites  had  re- 
ceived direct  from  God,  amid  the  flames  of  Sinai, 
were  unalterable  ;  in  them  the  three  cardinal  prin- 
ciples of  a  divine  legislation  are  laid  down.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  remaining  prescriptions  of  Judaism, 
imposed  on  the  people  solely  through  the  mediation 
of  Moses,  were  open  to  change  or  even  revocation. 


But  this  instability  of  a  portion,  perhaps  a  large  por- 
tion, of  the  Jewish  religious  law  was  only  a  theory, 
propounded  simply  as  a  possibility.  In  practice  the 
obligations  of  the  Torah  were  to  be  regarded  as 
binding  and  unalterable,  until  it  should  please  God 
to  reveal  other  laws  through  the  medium  of  a  pro- 
phet as  great  as  Moses,  and  in  as  open  and  convin- 
cing a  manner  as  on  Sinai.  Hitherto  no  prophet  had 
made  good  his  claim  so  far  as  to  render  necessary 
the  rescinding  of  any  portion  of  Judaism. 

Albo's  religious  system  is  far  from  satisfactory. 
Based  upon  the  Christian  doctrine  of  salvation,  it 
was  compelled  to  regard  faith,  in  a  Christian  sense, 
as  the  chief  condition  of  the  soul's  redempdon,  and 
the  ordinances  of  Judaism  as  sacraments,  similar  to 
baptism  or  communion,  upon  which  salvation  was 
dependent.  Nor  is  the  development  of  his  theory 
strictly  logical.  Too  often  the  arts  of  the  preacher 
take  the  place  of  severe  reasoning,  and  for  the  illus- 
tration of  his  ideas  he  indulges  in  prolix  sermons  in 
exposition  of  Biblical  and  Agadic  texts. 

A  bolder  thinker  than  Albo,  but,  like  him,  a 
preacher,  was  his  junior  contemporary,  Joseph  Ibn- 
Shem  Tob.  At  one  time,  when  in  disgrace  with  the 
king  of  Castile,  and  leading  a  wandering  life,  he  held 
forth  every  Sabbath  to  large  audiences.  He  had 
been  well  schooled  in  philosophy.  His  Kabbalistical, 
gloomy  and  fanatical  father,  who  denounced  philos- 
ophy as  a  primary  source  of  evil,  damned  Aristotle 
to  hell,  and  even  accused  Maimuni  of  heterodoxy, 
must  have  been  scandalized  when  his  son  Joseph 
plunged  deep,  and  with  all  his  heart,  into  the  study 
of  Aristotle  and  Maimuni.  But  Joseph  did  not  hesi- 
tate to  stigmatize  the  error  of  his  father  and  of  those 
who  thought  the  employment  of  philosophic  methods 
opposed  to  the  interests  of  religion.  He,  on  the 
contrary,  held  that  they  were  essential  for  the  at- 
tainment of  the  higher  destiny  to  which  all  men, 
especially  Israelites,  are  called.  The  cultured,  philo- 

244  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

sophical  Jew  who  intelligently  discharges  all  the  re- 
ligious duties  of  Judaism  obviously  realizes  his  high 
aim  much  sooner  than  the  Israelite  who  practices  his 
ceremonial  blindly,  without  wisdom  or  understand- 
ing. Science  is  also  of  great  value  in  enabling 
human  intelligence  to  discriminate  error.  It  is  the 
nature  of  man's  imperfect  intellect  to  foster  truth 
and  error  side  by  side  ;  but  knowledge  teaches  how 
to  distinguish  between  the  true  and  the  false.  On 
the  other  hand,  gaps  in  philosophical  teaching  are 
bridged  over  by  the  Sinaitic  Law.  In  so  far  as  the 
latter  conceives  the  happiness  of  man  in  the  survival 
of  the  spirit  after  the  destruction  of  the  body,  it  is 
immeasurably  the  superior  of  philosophy.  Judaism 
also  names  the  means  of  attaining  eternal  happiness 
— the  conscientious  fulfillment  of  religious  obliga- 
tions. On  this  point,  Joseph  Shem  Tob's  view  ap- 
proximates that  of  Joseph  Albo.  In  his  eyes,  also, 
the  commandments  of  Judaism  have  a  sacramental 
character,  but  he  does  not  emphasize  salvation  so 
much  as  Albo,  Joseph  Ibn-Shem  Tob  went  so  far, 
however,  as  to  deny  that  the  objects  of  the  religious 
laws  were  knowable,  and,  to  a  certain  extent,  ascribed 
to  them  a  mystical  influence. 

None  of  these  writings  of  the  first  half  of  the  fif- 
teenth century,  philosophical  or  polemical,  was  the 
fruit  of  leisure  and  an  unfettered  spirit.  All  were 
stimulated  into  existence  by  the  urgent  necessities 
of  the  times,  and  were  put  forth  to  protect  the  relig- 
ious and  moral  treasure-house  from  pressing  danger. 
In  order  not  to  succumb,  Judaism  was  forced  simul- 
taneously to  strengthen  itself  from  within  and  ward 
off  attacks  from  without. 

It  was,  indeed,  more  than  ever  necessary  for  Juda- 
ism to  arm  itself,  doubly  and  trebly ;  its  darkest 
days  were  approaching.  Again  the  grim  church 
fiend  arose,  and  the  gruesome  shadow  of  its  ex- 
tended wings  swept  anxiously  across  Europe.  As 
in  the  time  of  Innocent  III,  so  again  at  this  period 


the  church  decreed  the  degradation  and  proscription 
of  the  Jews.  The  old  enactments  were  solemnly 
renewed  by  the  official  representatives  of  Christen- 
dom, assembled  in  QEcumenical  Council  at  Basle, 
where  they  had  declared  their  infallibility,  and  even 
satin  judgment  on  the  papacy.  Curious,  indeed! 
The  council  could  not  arrange  its  own  concerns, 
was  powerless  to  bring  the  mocking  Hussites  back 
to  the  bosom  of  Mother  Church,  despaired  of  put- 
ting an  end  to  the  dissoluteness  and  vice  of  the 
clergy  and  monks,  yet  gave  its  attention  to  the  Jews 
to  lead  them  to  salvation.  Leprous  sheep  them- 
selves, they  sought  to  save  unblemished  lambs!  The 
Basle  church  council,  which  sat  for  thirteen  years 
(June,  143 1 — May,  1443),  examining  all  the  great 
European  questions,  gave  no  small  share  of  Its  at- 
tention to  the  Jews.  Their  humiHation  was  neces- 
sary for  the  strengthening  of  Christian  faith — such 
was  the  ground  on  which  the  council  proceeded  at 
its  nineteenth  sitting  (September  7th,  1434),  when  it 
resolved  to  revise  the  old  and  devise  new  restric- 
tions. The  canonical  decrees  prohibiting  Christians 
from  holding  intercourse  with  Jews,  from  rendering 
them  services,  and  from  employing  them  as  physi- 
cians, excluding  them  from  offices  and  dignities, 
imposing  on  them  a  distinctive  garb,  and  ordering 
them  to  live  in  special  Jew-quarters,  were  renewed. 
A  few  fresh  measures  were  adopted,  new  In  so  far 
as  they  had  not  previously  been  put  forward  by 
the  highest  ecclesiastical  authorities.  These  pro- 
vided that  Jews  should  not  be  admitted  to  uni- 
versity degrees,  that  they  should  be  made.  If  neces- 
sary, by  force,  to  attend  the  delivery  of  conver- 
sionist  sermons,  and  that  at  the  colleges  means 
should  be  provided  for  combating  Jewish  heresy  by 
instruction  in  Hebrew,  Chaldee,  and  Arabic.  Thus 
the  CEcumenlcal  Council,  which  gave  itself  out  as 
inspired  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  designed  the  conver- 
sion of  all  Jews.     It  adopted  the  program  of  Penya- 

346  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

forte,  Pablo  Christiani,  and  Vincent  Ferrer,  who  had 
counseled  systematic  application  of  pressure  to  in 
duce  the  Jews  to  abandon  "their  infidelity."  On 
the  baptized  Jews,  too,  the  Basle  church  council  be- 
stowed special  attention.  They  were  to  be  favored, 
but  also  carefully  watched,  lest  they  marry  Jews, 
keep  the  Sabbath  and  Jewish  feasts,  bury  their  dead 
according  to  Jewish  rites,  or,  in  fact,  follow  any 
Jewish  observances. 

A  fanatical  paroxysm  broke  out  afresh  in  various 
towns  of  Europe,  commencing  in  the  island  of  Ma- 
jorca. The  remnant  of  the  congregation  of  Palma 
was  hated  alike  by  the  priests  and  the  mob,  .and 
both  gave  a  willing  ear  to  the  rumor  that  the  Jews, 
during  Holy  Week,  had  crucified  the  Moorish  servant 
of  a  Jew,  and  put  him  to  the  torture.  The  reputed 
martyr  was  still  living,  but,  nevertheless.  Bishop  Gil- 
Nunjoz  caused  two  Jews  to  be  imprisoned  as  ring- 
leaders. Thereupon  arose  a  contest  between  the 
bishop  and  the  governor,  Juan  Desfar,  the  latter 
maintaining  that  as  the  Jews  were  the  property  of 
the  king,  he  alone  could  condemn  them.  The  bishop 
was  obliged  to  hand  over  the  Jews,  who  were  locked 
up  in  the  governor's  jail.  The  priests,  however,  in- 
cited the  mob  against  the  governor  and  the  Jews, 
and  before  Juan  Desfar  could  arrange  for  a  hearing, 
the  people  were  prepossessed  against  him.  A  court 
composed  chiefly  of  Dominicans  and  Franciscans 
was  called  together,  and  employed  the  rack  as  the 
most  effectual  means  of  obtaining  the  truth  from  the 
witnesses.  One  of  the  accused  put  to  the  torture 
acknowledged  all  that  was  desired,  and  pointed  out 
any  Jews  who  happened  to  be  mentioned  as  his  ac- 
complices. An  unprincipled  Jew  named  Astruc 
Sibili,  who  lived  in  strife  with  many  members  of  the 
community,  and  feared  to  be  involved  in  the  blood 
accusation,  came  forward  as  the  denouncer  of  his 
co-religionists.  Apparently  of  his  own  accord 
Astruc  Sibili  acknowledged  that  the  servant  had 

CH.  VII.  END   OF   THE    COMMUNITV    OF    MAJORCA.  24/ 

been  crucified,  and  pointed  out  several  Jews  as  the 
murderers.  Although  he  kept  himself  clear  from 
all  complicity  in  the  matter,  Astruc  Sibili  was  soon 
punished  for  his  denunciations — he  was  thrown  into 
prison  as  an  accomplice.  The  fate  of  the  informer 
and  the  flight  of  several  Jewish  families,  justly- 
fearing  a  repetition  of  massacres,  from  Palma  to  a 
mountain  in  the  vicinity,  excited  the  Christian  in- 
habitants yet  more.  The  fugitives  were  pursued, 
placed  in  fetters,  and  brought  back  to  the  city,  their 
flight  being  considered  a  proof  of  the  guilt  of  the 
entire  community.  Astruc  Sibili  and  three  others 
were  condemned  to  be  burnt  at  the  stake,  but  their 
punishment  was  commuted  to  death  by  hanging, 
on  condition  that  they  be  baptized.  To  this  they 
agreed,  considering  baptism  the  last  straw  by  which 
their  lives  might  be  saved.  The  whole  community, 
men,  women  and  children,  two  hundred  in  all,  went 
over  to  Christianity  to  escape  a  horrible  death. 
The  priests  had  ample  employment  in  baptizing  the 
converts.  How  little  they  believed  in  the  imputed 
crime  of  the  condemned  was  shown  when,  the 
gallows  being  reached,  the  priests,  encouraging  the 
mob  to  do  the  same,  demanded  the  pardon  of  the 
condemned.  The  governor  yielded  to  the  voice  of 
the  people,  and  by  a  procession  and  amid  singing 
they  were  escorted  to  the  church,  where  a  Te 
Deum  was  chanted.  Thus  ended  the  community 
of  Majorca,  which  had  lasted  over  a  thousand  years, 
and  had  greatly  contributed  to  the  well-being  of  the 
island.  With  it  disappeared  the  prosperity  of  this 
fruitful  and  favored  island.  Simon  Duran,  deeply 
grieved  at  the  secession  of  the  community  of  Palma, 
which  he  had  lovingly  cherished,  silenced  his  con- 
science with  the  thought  that  he  had  not  been  remiss 
in  exhortation. 

w.  # ?. 



Pope  Eugenius  IV,  under  the  Influence  of  Alfonso  de  Cartagena, 
changes  his  Attitude  towards  the  Jews — His  Bull  against  the 
Spanish  and  Italian  Jews  in  1442 — Don  Juan  II  defends  the 
Jews — Pope  Nicholas  V's  Hostility — Louis  of  Bavaria — The 
Philosopher  Nicholas  of  Cusa  and  his  Relation  to  Judaism — 
John  of  Capistrano — His  Influence  with  the  People  is  turned 
against  the  Jews — Capistrano  in  Bavaria  and  Wiirzburg — Expul- 
sion of  the  Breslau  Community — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from 
Briinn  and  Olmiitz — The  Jews  of  Poland  under  Casimir  IV — 
Capture  of  Constantinople  by  Mahomet  II — The  Jews  find  an 
Asylum  in  Turkey — The  Karaites — Moses  Kapsali — Isaac  Zar- 
fati — Position  of  the  Jews  of  Spain — Persecutions  directed  by 
Alfonso  de  Spina — The  Condition  of  the  Marranos. 

1442 — 1474  C.E. 

About  the  middle  of  the  fifteenth  century,  venomous 
hatred  of  Jews,  become  characteristic  of  Spain  and 
Germany,  began  to  increase,  and  at  the  end  of  that 
century  reached  its  highest  development.  In  Spain 
it  was  stimulated  principally  by  envy  of  the  in- 
fluential positions  still  enjoyed  by  Jews  in  spite  of 
misfortune  and  humiliation ;  in  Germany,  on  the 
contrary,  where  the  Jews  moved  like  shadows,  it 
arose  from  vague  race-antipathy,  of  which  religious 
differences  formed  only  one  aspect.  An  unfortunate 
event  for  the  German  communities  was  the  death  of 
Emperor  Sigismund  (towards  the  end  of  1437)  at 
the  moment  when  the  council  of  Basle  was  casting 
a  threatening  glance  in  their  direction.  This  prince 
was  not  a  reliable  protector  of  the  Jews.  Often 
enough  he  bled  them  to  relieve  his  ever-recurring 
pecuniary  embarrassments,  and  he  even  charged 
them  with  the  expenses  of  the  council  of  Constance. 
But  so  far  as  lay  in  his  power  he  set  his  face  against 
the  bloody  persecutions  of  his  Hebrew  subjects. 
He  was  succeeded  as  German  king  and  emperor 

CH.  VIII.  ALBERT   II.  249 

by  the  Austrian  Archduke  Albert,  who  had  already 
distinguished  himself  by  inhumanity  towards  Jews. 
Albert  II  was  a  deadly  enemy  of  Jews  and  heretics. 
He  could  not  exterminate  either,  for  the  Hussites 
had  courage  and  arms,  and  the  Jews  were  an  indis- 
pensable source  of  money ;  but  whenever  it  was 
sought  to  injure  them  he  gladly  assisted.  When 
the  town  council  of  Augsburg  decided  to  expel  the 
Jewish  community  (1439),  the  emperor  joyfully 
gave  his  consent.  Two  years  were  granted  them 
to  dispose  of  their  houses  and  immovables ;  at  the 
end  of  that  time  they  were  one  and  all  exiled,  and 
the  grave  stones  in  the  Jewish  cemetery  used  to 
repair  the  city  walls.  Fortunately  for  the  Jews, 
Albert  reigned  only  two  years,  and  the  rule  of  the 
Holy  Roman  Empire,  or  rather  the  anarchy  by 
which  it  was  convulsed,  devolved  on  the  good- 
natured,  weak,  indolent,  and  tractable  Frederick  III. 
As  a  set  off,  two  fanatical  Jew-haters  now  arose — 
Pope  Eugenius  IV  and  the  Franciscan,  John  of 
Capistrano,  a  cut-throat  in  the  guise  of  a  lowly 
ser\'ant  of  God. 

Eugenius.  whom  the  council  of  Basle  had  degraded 
step  by  step,  depriving  him  of  his  dignities  and 
electing  another  pope  in  his  place,  ultimately  tri- 
umphed through  the  treachery  of  some  of  the  prin- 
cipal members  of  the  council  and  the  helplessness 
of  the  German  princes,  and  was  again  enabled  to 
befool  the  Christian  nations.  Eugenius,  though  of 
narrow,  monkish  views,  was  at  first  not  unfavorably 
disposed  towards  the  Jews.  At  the  beginning  of  his 
pontificate,  he  confirmed  the  privileges  granted  Jews 
by  his  predecessor,  Martin  V,  promised  them  his 
protection,  and  forbade  their  forcible  baptism.  But 
he  was  soon  influenced  in  an  opposite  direction,  and 
developed  extraordinary  zeal  in  degrading  the  Jews 
andwididrawing  all  protection  from  them.  The  prime 
mover  in  this  conversion  seems  to  have  been  Alfonso 
de  Cartagena,  a  son  of  the  apostate  Paul  de  Santa 


Maria.  Appointed  bishop  of  Burgos  on  the  death 
of  his  father,  Alfonso  warmly  espoused  the  cause  of 
Pope  Eugenius  at  the  council  of  Basle,  and  hence 
rose  high  in  the  favor  of  the  pontiff.  He  alone  could 
have  been  the  author  of  the  complaints  against  the 
pride  and  arrogance  of  the  Castilian  Jews  which 
induced  the  pope  to  issue  the  bull  of  1442.  This 
document  was  addressed  to  the  bishops  of  Castile 
and  Leon  (loth  August,  1442),  and  was  to  the  effect 
that  it  had  come  to  the  knowledge  of  his  Holiness 
that  the  Jews  abuse  the  privileges  granted  them  by- 
former  popes,  blaspheming  and  transgressing  to  the 
vexation  of  the  faithful  and  the  dishonor  of  the  true 
faith.  He  felt  himself  compelled,  therefore,  to  with- 
draw the  indulgences  granted  by  his  predecessors — 
Martin  and  other  popes — and  to  declare  them  null 
and  void.  At  the  same  time  Eugenius  repeated  the 
canonical  restrictions  in  a  severer  form.  Thus,  he 
decreed  that  Christians  should  not  eat,  drink,  bathe, 
or  live  with  Jews  (or  Mahometans),  nor  use  medicines 
of  any  kind  purveyed  by  them.  Jews  (and  Ma- 
hometans) should  not  be  eligible  for  any  office  or 
dignity,  and  should  be  incompetent  to  inherit  prop- 
erty from  Christians.  They  were  to  build  no  more 
synagogues,  and,  in  repairing  the  old,  were  to  avoid 
all  ornamentation.  They  were  to  seclude  themselves 
from  the  public  eye  during  Passion  Week,  to  the 
extent  even  of  keeping  their  doors  and  windows 
closed.  The  testimony  of  Jews  (and  Mahometans) 
against  Christians  was  declared  invalid.  Eugenius' 
bull  emphatically  enjoined  that  no  Christian  should 
stand  in  any  relation  of  servitude  to  a  Jew,  and 
should  not  even  kindle  a  fire  for  him  on  the  Sab- 
bath; that  Jews  should  be  distinguished  from  Chris- 
tians by  a  peculiar  costume,  and  reside  in  special 
quarters.  Furthermore,  every  blasphemous  utter- 
ance by  a  Jew  about  Jesus,  the  "  Mother  of  God," 
or  the  saints,  was  to  be  severely  punished  by  the 
civil  tribunals.     This  bull  was  ordered  to  be  made 


known  throughout  the  land,  and  put  in  force  thirty 
days  later.  Heavy  penalties  were  to  be  exacted 
for  offenses  under  it.  If  the  culprit  was  a  Christian, 
he  was  to  be  placed  under  the  ban  of  the  church, 
and  neither  king  nor  queen  was  to  be  exempt ;  if  a 
Jew,  then  the  whole  of  his  fortune,  personal  and 
real,  was  to  be  confiscated  by  the  bishop  of  the  dio- 
cese, and  applied  to  the  purposes  of  the  church. 
By  means  of  circular  letters,  Eugenius  exhorted  the 
Castilian  ecclesiastics  to  enforce  the  restrictions 
without  mercy.  He  dared  not  be  outdone  in  Jew- 
hatred  by  the  council  of  Basle.  At  about  the  same 
time,  or  perhaps  earlier,  Eugenius  issued  a  bull  of 
forty-two  articles  against  the  Italian  Jewish  commu- 
nities, in  which,  among  other  things,  he  ordered 
that,  under  pain  of  confiscation  of  property',  Jews 
should  not  read  Talmudic  literature. 

The  papal  bull  for  Castile  was  proclaimed  in 
many  of  the  towns,  as  it  would  appear,  without  the 
consent  of  the  king,  Juan  II.  The  fanatics  had  won 
the  day ;  all  their  wishes  were  fulfilled.  The  mis- 
guided people  at  once  considered  Jews  and  Ma- 
hometans outlawed,  and  proceeded  to  make  vio- 
lent attacks  on  their  persons  and  property.  Pious 
Christians  interpreted  the  papal  ordinances  to  mean 
that  they  were  not  to  continue  commercial  relations 
of  any  kind  with  the  Jews.  Christian  shepherds  forth- 
with abandoned  the  flocks  and  herds  committed 
to  their  charge  by  Jews  and  Mahometans,  and 
plowmen  turned  their  backs  upon  the  fields.  The 
union  of  towns  (Hermandad)  framed  new  statutes  for 
the  more  complete  oppression  of  the  proscribed  of 
the  church.  In  consternation  the  Jews  appealed  to  the 
king  of  Castile.  Their  complaints  had  all  the  more 
effect  upon  him  as  their  damage  meant  damage 
to  the  royal  exchequer.  Accordingly,  Juan  II,  or 
rather  his  favorite,  Alvaro  de  Luna,  issued  a  counter 
decree  (April  6th,  1443).  He  expressed  his  indig- 
nation at  the  shamelessness  which  made  the  papal 

252  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  Vlll. 

bull  an  excuse  for  assaults  on  the  Jews  and  Mahom- 
etans. Canonical,  royal  and  imperial  law  agreed  in 
permitting  them  to  live  undisturbed  and  unmolested 
among  Christians.  The  bull  of  Pope  Eugenius 
placed  Jews  and  Mahometans  under  certain  spe- 
cific restrictions  ;  but  it  did  not  follow  that  they 
might  be  robbed,  injured  or  maltreated,  that  they 
might  not  engage  in  trade  or  industry,  nor  work 
as  weavers,  goldsmiths,  carpenters,  barbers,  shoe- 
makers, tailors,  millers,  coppersmiths,  saddlers, 
rope-makers,  potters,  cartwrights  or  basket-makers, 
or  that  Christians  might  not  serve  them  in , these 
pursuits.  Such  service  involved  neither  relaxation 
of  Christian  authority  nor  dangerous  intimacy  with 
Jews.  Nor  did  it  appear  that  the  avocations  men- 
tioned conferred  any  of  that  prestige  which  solely 
the  bull  was  designed  to  deny  to  Jews. 

Christians  should  certainly  abstain  from  the  medi- 
cines of  Jewish  or  Moorish  physicians,  unless  com- 
pounded by  Christian  hands  ;  but  this  did  not  mean 
that  skillful  doctors  of  the  Jewish  or  the  Mahometan 
faith  should  not  be  consulted,  or  their  medicines 
not  used,  when  no  Christian  physician  was  available. 
Juan  II  imposed  upon  the  magistracy  the  duty  of 
safeguarding  the  Jews  and  Mahometans,  as  objects 
of  his  special  protection,  and  instructed  them  to 
punish  Christian  offenders  with  imprisonment  and 
confiscation  of  goods.  He  furthermore  ordered 
that  his  pleasure  be  made  known  throughout  the 
land  by  public  criers,  in  the  presence  of  a  notary. 

Whether  this  sophistical  decree  was  of  any  real 
use  to  the  Jews  is  doubtful.  Don  Juan  II  had  not 
much  authority  in  his  kingdom,  and  was  obliged 
to  make  frequent  concessions  to  hostile  parties, 
with  whom  his  own  son  occasionally  made  common 
cause.  The  Castilian  Jews  were  consequently 
abandoned  to  the  arbitrary  authority  of  the  local 
magistrates  during  the  remainder  of  the  reign  of  this 
well-meaning  but  weak  monarch,  and  were  obliged 


to  come  to  terms  with  them  whenever  protection 
was  required  against  violence  or  false  accusations. 
Did  any  misfortune  threaten  a  Jew,  then  the  tailor 
would  fly  to  his  princely  patron,  or  the  goldsmith  to 
a  grandee  of  high  position,  and  seek  to  avert  it  by 
supplications  or  gold.  It  was  truly  no  enviable 
situation  in  which  the  Jews  found  themselves. 

Eugenius'  successor,  Pope  Nicholas  V  (March, 
1447 — March,  1455),  continued  the  system  of  de- 
grading and  oppressing  the  Jews.  As  soon  as  he 
ascended  the  throne  of  St.  Peter  he  devoted  himself 
to  abolishing  the  privileges  of  the  Italian  Jews, 
which  Martin  V  had  confirmed  and  Eugenius  had 
not  formally  revoked,  and  subjecting  them  to  excep- 
tional laws.  In  a  bull,  dated  June  23d,  1447,  he 
repeated  for  Italy  the  restrictions  which  his  prede- 
cessor had  formulated  for  Castile,  re-enacting  them 
in  the  fullest  detail,  not  even  omitting  the  prohibition 
against  the  lighting  of  fires  for  Jews  on  the  Sabbath. 
But  though  Nicholas'  bull  was  only  a  copy,  it  had 
much  more  real  force  than  the  original ;  for  its  exe- 
cution was  confided  to  the  pitiless  Jew-hater  and 
heretic-hunter,  John  of  Capistrano.  On  him  de- 
volved the  duty  of  seeing,  either  in  person  or 
through  his  brother  Franciscans,  that  the  provisions 
of  the  bull  were  literally  obeyed,  and  infractions 
strictly  punished.  If,  for  example,  a  Jewish  physi- 
cian provided  a  suffering  Christian  with  the  means 
of  regaining  health,  Capistrano  was  authorized  to 
confiscate  the  whole  of  the  offender's  fortune  and 
property.  And  the  saintly  monk,  with  heart  of  stone, 
was  just  the  man  to  visit  such  a  transgression  with 
unrelenting  severity. 

The  Jew-hatred  of  the  council  of  Basle  and  the 
popes  spread  like  a  contagion  over  a  wide  area. 
The  fierce  and  bigoted  Bavarian  Duke  of  Landshut, 
Louis  the  Rich — "a  hunter  of  game  and  Jews  " — 
had  all  the  Jews  of  his  country  arrested  on  one  day 
(Monday,  October  5th,  1450),  shortly  after  his  acces- 

254  HISTORY    OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

slon  to  power.  The  men  were  thrown  into  prison, 
the  women  shut  up  in  the  synagogues,  and  their 
property  and  jewelry  confiscated.  Christian  debtors 
were  directed  not  to  pay  their  Jewish  creditors  more 
than  the  capital  they  had  originally  borrowed,  and 
to  deduct  from  that  the  interest  already  paid.  After 
four  weeks  of  incarceration  the  unhappy  Jews  were 
obliged  to  purchase  their  lives  from  the  turbulent 
duke  for  30,000  gulden,  and  then,  penniless  and 
almost  naked,  they  were  turned  out  of  the  country. 
Gladly  would  Louis  have  meted  out  the  same  treat- 
ment to  the  large  and  rich  community  of  Ratisbon, 
which  was  within  his  jurisdiction.  As,  however,  his 
authority  was  recognized  only  to  a  limited  extent, 
and  as  the  Jews  of  the  city  were  under  the  protec- 
tion of  the  council  and  Its  privileges,  he  was  obliged 
to  content  himself  with  levying  contributions.  Many 
Jews  are  said  to  have  been  driven  by  anxiety  and 
want  into  embracing  Christianity. 

As  the  rest  of  the  European  Jews  regarded  their 
Spanish  brethren  as  an  exalted  and  favored  class, 
so  the  papacy  directed  special  attention  to  them  in 
order  to  put  an  end  to  their  favorable  position  in  the 
state.  Either  on  the  proposition  of  the  king  to 
modify  the  severe  canonical  restrictions  against  Jews, 
or  on  the  petition  of  their  enemies  to  confirm  them. 
Pope  Nicholas  V  issued  a  new  bull  (March  ist, 
1 45 1 ).  He  confirmed  the  old  exclusions  from  Chris- 
tian society  and  all  honorable  walks  of  life,  and 
entirely  abolished  the  privileges  of  the  Spanish  and 
the  Italian  Jews. 

The  unpitying  harshness  of  canonical  legislation 
against  the  children  of  Israel  was  unconsciously 
based  on  fear.  All-powerful  Christianity  dreaded 
the  influence  which  the  Jewish  mind  might  exert  on 
the  Christian  population  in  too  familiar  intercourse. 
What  the  papacy  concealed  in  the  incense-clouds  of 
its  official  decrees  was  disclosed  by  a  philosophical 
writer  and  cardinal  standing  in  close  relation  with  the 

CH.  VIII.  NICHOLAS    DE   CUSA.  255  ^~-- 

papal  court.  Nicholas  de  Cusa  (from  Cues  on  the 
Moselle),  the  last  devotee  of  scholasticism,  into 
which  he  tried  to  introduce  mystic  elements,  enthusi- 
astically advocated,  in  the  face  of  the  dissensions  of 
Christendom,  a  union  of  all  religions  in  one  creed. 
The  church  ceremonies  he  was  prepared  to  sacrifice, 
nay,  he  was  ready  to  accept  circumcision,  if,  by  such 
means,  non-Christians  could  be  won  over  to  the 
belief  in  the  Trinity.  He  feared,  as  he  distinctly  said, 
the  stiffneckedness  of  the  Jews,  who  cling  so  stub- 
bornly to  their  monotheism  ;  but  he  consoled  himself 
with  the  reflection  that  an  unarmed  handful  could 
not  disturb  the  peace  of  the  world.  It  is  true,  the 
Jews  were  unarmed  ;  but,  mentally,  they  were  still 
powerful,  and  Nicholas  resolved  to  devote  himself 
to  the  task  of  depriving  them  of  intellectual  strength. 
The  pope  had  appointed  him  legate  for  Germany, 
where  he  was  to  reform  church  and  cloister  {1450 — 
145 1).  But  the  cardinal  also  occupied  himself  with 
the  Jewish  question.  At  the  provincial  council  of 
Bamberg  he  put  into  force  the  canonical  statute 
concerning  Jew  badges,  which  provided  that  men 
should  wear  round  pieces  of  red  cloth  on  their 
breasts,  and  women  blue  stripes  on  their  head- 
dresses— as  if  the  branding  of  Jews  could  heal  the 
dissolute  clergy  and  their  demoralized  flocks  of  their 
uncleanness.  The  only  result  of  the  isolation  of  the 
Jews  was  their  protection  from  the  taint  of  prevail- 
ing immorality.  The  cardinal  was  not  successful  in 
purifying  the  clergy,  or  in  putting  an  end  to  the 
fraud  of  bleeding  hosts  and  miracle-working 
images,  against  which  he  had  exclaimed  so  loudly. 
The  church  remained  corrupt  to  the  core.  There 
would  have  been  abundant  cause  to  fear  the  Jews, 
if  they  had  been  permitted  to  probe  the  suppurating 

Especially  troublesome  to  the   church  were  the        \Xf-^ 
thousands  of  baptized  Jews  in  Spain,  who  had  been  Oi^O    y 

driven  into  its  fold  by  the  massacres,  pulpit  denun- 

256  HISTOKy   OP  THE  JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

ciations,  and  legal  restrictions  to  which  their  race 
was  exposed.  Not  only  the  lay  new-Christians,  but 
also  those  who  had  taken  orders  or  had  assumed 
the  monk's  garb,  continued  to  observe,  more  or  less 
openly,  the  Jewish  religious  laws.  The  sophistry  of 
the  converts,  Paul  de  Santa  Maria  and  Geronimo 
de  Santa  Fe,  regarding  the  testimony  in  the  Old 
Testament  and  the  Talmudic  Agada  to  the  Messiah- 
ship  of  Jesus,  the  Incarnation  of  God,  the  Trinity 
and  other  church  dogmas,  impressed  the  Marranos 
but  little.  In  spite  of  baptism,  they  remained  stiff- 
necked  and  blind,  i.  e.,  true  to  the  faith  of  their 
fathers.  Don  Juan  of  Castile,  at  the  instigation  of 
his  favorite,  Alvaro  de  Luna,  who  was  anxious  to 
strike  at  his  arch-enemies,  the  new-Christians,  com- 
plained to  Pope  Nicholas  V  of  the  relapses  of  the 
Marranos,  and  the  pontiff  knew  of  no  remedy  but 
force.  He  addressed  rescripts  to  the  bishop  of 
Osma  and  the  vicar  of  Salamanca  (November  20th, 
145 1 ),  empowering  them  to  appoint  inquisitors  to 
inquire  judicially  into  cases  of  new-Christians 
suspected  of  Judaizing.  The  inquisitors  were 
authorized  to  punish  the  convicted,  imprison  them, 
confiscate  their  goods  and  disgrace  them,  to  degrade 
even  priests,  and  hand  them  over  to  the  secular  arm 
— a  church  euphemism  for  condemning  them  to  the 
heretic's  stake.  This  was  the  first  spark  of  the  hell- 
fire  of  the  Inquisition,  which  perpetrated  more  in- 
humanity than  all  the  tyrants  and  malefactors 
branded  by  history.  At  first  this  bull  seems  to  have 
been  ineffectual.  The  times  were  not  ripe  for  the 
bloody  institution.  Besides,  the  Christians  them- 
selves helped  to  keep  up  the  connection  of  the  bap- 
tized Jews  with  their  brethren  in  race.  They  denied 
equal  rights  to  new-Christians  of  Jewish  or  Mahom- 
etan origin,  and  wished  to  exclude  them  from  all 
posts  of  honor.  Against  this  antipathy,  inherent  in 
the  diversity  of  national  elements,  the  pope  was 
compelled  to  issue  a  bull  (November  29th,  1451), 


but  it  was  powerless  to  uproot  the  prejudice.  It 
could  be  removed  only  by  higher  culture,  not  at  the 
dictation  of  a  church  chief,  even  though  he  boasted 
of  infallibility. 

How  absurd,  then,  to  continue  driving  such  pros- 
elytes into  the  church  !  Yet  this  was  done  by  the 
Franciscan  monk,  John  of  Capistrano  (of  Neapoli- 
tan origin),  who  is  responsible  for  immense  injury 
to  the  Jews  of  many  lands.  This  mendicant  friar, 
of  gaunt  figure  and  ill-favored  appearance,  pos- 
sessed a  winning  voice  and  an  iron  will,  which 
enabled  him  to  obtain  unbounded  influence,  not 
only  over  the  stupid  populace,  but  also  over  the 
cultivated  classes.  With  a  word  he  could  fascinate, 
inspire,  or  terrify,  persuade  to  piety  or  incite  to 
cruelty.  Like  the  Spanish  Dominican,  Vincent 
Ferrer,  the  secret  of  Capistrano' s  power  lay  not  so 
much  in  his  captivating  eloquence  as  in  the  sympa- 
thetic modulations  of  his  voice  and  the  unshakable 
enthusiasm  with  which  he  clung  to  his  mistaken 
convictions.  He  himself  firmly  believed  that,  with 
the  blood  he  had  gathered  from  the  nose  of  his 
master,  Bernard  of  Sienna,  and  his  capuche,  he  could 
cure  the  sick,  awake  the  dead  and  perform  all  kinds 
of  miracles,  and  the  misguided  people  not  only  be- 
lieved but  exaggerated  his  professions.  His  strictly 
ascetic  life,  his  hatred  of  good  living,  luxury  and 
debauchery,  made  an  impression  the  deeper  from  its 
striking  contrast  to  the  sensuality  and  dissoluteness 
of  the  great  bulk  of  the  clergy  and  monks.  Wher- 
ever Capistrano  appeared,  the  people  thronged  by 
thousands  to  hear  him,  to  be  edified  and  agitated, 
even  though  they  did  not  understand  a  syllable  of 
his  Latin  addresses.  The  astute  popes,  Eugenius 
IV  and  Nicholas  V,  recog-nized  in  him  a  serviceable 
mstrument  for  the  restoration  of  the  tottering 
authority  of  St.  Peter.  They  rejoiced  in  his  homi- 
lies on  the  infallibility  of  the  papacy  and  his  fiery 
harangues  on  the  extermination  of  heretics,  and  the 


necessity  of  withstanding  the  victoriously  advancing 
Turks.  They  offered  no  objection  if,  at  the  same 
time,  he  thought  proper  to  vent  his  monkish  gall 
upon  harmless  amusements,  pastimes  and  the  ele- 
gancies of  life,  seeing  that  they  themselves  were 
not  disturbed  in  their  enjoyments  and  pleasures. 
Among  the  standing  themes  of  Capistrano's  excit- 
ing discourses — second  only  to  his  rancor  against 
heretics  and  Turks,  and  his  tirades  against  luxury 
and  sports — were  his  denunciations  of  the  impieties 
and  the  usury  of  Jews.  This  procured  his  appoint- 
ment by  Pope  Nicholas  to  the  post  of  inquisitor  of 
the  Jews,  his  duty  being  to  superintend  the  enforce- 
ment of  the  canonical  restrictions  against  them.  He 
had  in  Naples  occupied  the  position  of  inquisitorial 
judge  for  the  Jews,  on  the  nomination  of  Queen 
Joanna,  who  had  empowered  him  to  punish  with  the 
severest  penalties  any  failure  to  observe  the  eccle- 
siastical law  or  wear  the  Jew  badge. 

When  this  infuriate  Capuchin  visited  Germany,  he 
spread  terror  and  dismay  among  the  Jews.  They 
trembled  at  the  mention  of  his  name.  In  Bavaria, 
Silesia,  Moravia,  and  Austria,  the  bigotry  of  the 
Catholics,  already  at  a  high  pitch  on  account  of  the 
Hussite  schism,  was  further  stirred  by  Capistrano, 
and,  the  Bohemian  heretics  being  beyond  its  reach, 
it  vented  itself  upon  Jews.  The  Bavarian  dukes, 
Louis  and  Albert,  who  had  on  one  occasion  before 
driven  the  Jews  out  of  their  territories,  were  made 
still  more  fanatical  by  Capistrano.  The  former  de- 
manded of  certain  counts,  and  of  the  city  of  Ratis- 
bon,  that  they  expel  the  Jews.  The  burgomaster 
and  town  council,  however,  refused,  and  would  not 
withdraw  the  protection  and  the  rights  of  citizen- 
ship which  the  Jews  had  enjoyed  from  an  early 
period.  But  they  could  not  shield  them  from  the 
hostility  of  the  clergy.  Eventually  even  the  Ratis- 
bon  burghers,  despite  their  good  will  for  their  Jewish 
fellow-citizens,  fell   under  the  influence  of  Capis- 


trano's  fanaticism,  and  allowed  themselves  to  be 
incited  to  acts  of  unfriendliness.  In  the  midwife 
regulations,  promulgated  during  the  same  year, 
occurs  a  clause  prohibiting  Christian  midwives  from 
attending  Jewish  women,  even  in  cases  where  the 
lives  of  the  patients  were  at  stake. 

The  change  of  public  feeling  in  respect  to  the 
Jews,  brought  about  by  Capistrano,  is  strikingly  il- 
lustrated by  the  conduct  of  one  eminent  ecclesiastic 
before  and  after  the  appearance  of  the  Capuchin  in 
Germany.  Bishop  Godfrey,  of  Wurzburg,  reigning 
duke  of  Franconia,  shortly  after  his  accession  to  the 
government  of  the  duchy,  had  granted  the  fullest 
privileges  to  the  Jews.  More  favorable  treatment 
they  could  not  have  desired.  For  himself  and  his 
successors  he  promised  special  protection  to  all 
within  his  dominions,  both  to  those  settled  and  those 
who  might  settle  there  later.  They  were  to  be  freed 
from  the  authority  of  the  ordinary  tribunals,  lay  and 
ecclesiastical,  and  to  have  their  disputes  inquired 
into  and  adjudicated  by  their  own  courts.  Their 
rabbi  (Hochmeister)  was  to  be  exempt  from  taxes, 
and  to  be  allowed  to  receive  pupils  in  his  Vesktda  a.t 
his  discretion.  Their  movements  were  to  be  unre- 
stricted, and  those  who  might  desire  to  change  their 
place  of  residence  were  to  be  assisted  to  collect 
their  debts,  and  provided  with  safe-conduct  on  their 
journeys.  It  was  further  promised  that  these  privi- 
leges should  never  be  modified  or  revoked,  and  the 
dean  and  chapter  unanimously  recognized  and  guar- 
anteed them  "  for  themselves  and  their  successors 
in  the  chapter."  Every  Jew  who  took  up  his  abode 
within  Bishop  Godfrey's  jurisdiction  was  provided 
with  special  letters  of  protection.  But  after  Capis- 
trano had  begun  his  agitation,  how  different  the 
attitude  towards  Jews !  We  soon  find  the  same 
bishop  and  duke  of  Franconia  issuing,  "on  account 
of  the  grievous  complaints  against  the  Jews  in  his 
diocese,"  a  statute  and  ordinance  (1453)  decreeing 


their  banishment.  They  were  allowed  until  the  i8th 
January  of  the  following  year  to  sell  their  immov- 
ables, and  within  fourteen  days  after  thit  date,  they 
were  to  leave,  for  "he  (the  bishop)  would  no  longer 
tolerate  Jews  in  his  diocese."  The  towns,  barons, 
lords,  and  justices  were  enjoined  to  expel  the  Jews 
from  their  several  jurisdictions,  and  Jewish  creditors 
were  deprived  of  a  portion  of  the  debts  owing 
to  them.  When  Jews  were  concerned,  inhuman 
fanaticism  could  beguile  a  noble-hearted  prince  of 
the  church  and  an  entire  chapter  of  ecclesiastics 
into  a  flagrant  breach  of  faith. 

Capistrano's  influence  was  most  mischievous  for 
the  Jews  of  Silesia.  Here  he  showed  himself  in 
truth  to  be  the  "Scourge  of  the  Jews,"  as  his  ad- 
mirers called  him.  The  two  chief  communities  in 
this  province,  which  belonged  half  to  Poland  and 
half  to  Bohemia,  were  at  Breslau  a'd  Schweidnitz, 
and  the  Jews  composing  them,  not  h.  g  permitted 
to  possess  real  property,  and  being,  besides,  largely 
engaged  in  the  money  traffic,  had  considerable 
amounts  of  money  at  their  command.  The  majority 
of  the  nobles  were  among  their  debtors,  and  several 
towns  were  either  themselves  debtors  or  had  be- 
come security  for  their  princes.  Hence  it  is  not 
unlikely  that  some  debtors  of  rank  secretly  planned 
to  evade  their  liabilities  by  ridding  themselves  of 
the  Jews.  At  any  rate  the  advent  of  the  fanatical 
Franciscan  afforded  an  opportunity  for  carrying  out 
such  a  design. 

Capistrano  came  to  the  Silesian  capital  on  the 
invitation  of  the  bishop  of  Breslau,  Peter  Novak, 
who  found  himself  unable  to  control  his  subordinate 
ecclesiastics.  Summoning  the  clergy  to  his  pres- 
ence, the  Franciscan  preacher  upbraided  them  for 
their  sinful,  immoral,  and  sensual  lives.  The  doors 
of  the  church  in  which  the  interview  took  place  were 
securely  bolted,  so  that  no  lay  ear  might  learn  the 
full  extent  of  the  depravity  of  the  ministers  of  the 

CH.  VIII.  THE  JEWS   OF    BRESLAU.  261 

Gospel.  But  nearer  to  his  heart  than  the  reclama- 
tion of  the  clergy  was  the  extermination  of  the 
Hussites,  of  whom  there  were  many  in  Silesia,  and 
the  persecution  of  the  Jews.  The  frenzied  fanati- 
cism with  which  Capistrano's  harangues  inspired 
the  people  of  Breslau  directed  itself  principally 
against  the  Jews.  A  report  was  spread  that  a  Jew 
named  Meyer,  one  of  the  wealthiest  of  the  Breslau 
Israelites,  in  whose  safe-keeping  were  many  of  the 
bonds  of  the  burghers  and  nobles,  had  purchased  a 
host  from  a  peasant,  had  stabbed  and  blasphemed 
it,  and  then  distributed  its  fragments  among  the 
communities  of  Schweidnitz,  Liegnitz,  and  others 
for  further  desecration.  It  need  hardly  be  said  that 
the  wounded  host  was  alleged  to  have  shed  blood. 
This  imbecile  fiction  soon  reached  the  ears  of  the 
municipal  authorities,  with  whom  it  found  ready 
credence.  Forthwith  all  the  Jews  of  Breslau,  men, 
women  and  childen,  were  thrown  into  prison,  their 
entire  property  in  the  "Judengasse"  seized,  and, 
what  was  most  important  to  the  authors  of  the 
catastrophe,  the  bonds  of  their  debtors,  worth  about 
25,000  Hungarian  gold  florins,  confiscated  (2d  May, 
1453).  The  guilt  of  the  Jews  was  rendered  more 
credible  by  the  flight  of  a  few  of  them,  who  were, 
however,  soon  taken.  Capistrano  assumed  the 
direction  of  the  inquiry  into  this  important  affair. 
As  inquisitor,  the  leading  voice  in  the  prosecution 
of  blasphemers  of  the  consecrated  wafer  by  right 
belonged  to  him.  He  ordered  a  few  Jews  to  be 
stretched  on  the  rack,  and  personally  instructed  the 
torturers  in  their  task — he  had  experience  in  such 
work.  The  tortured  Israelites  confessed.  Mean- 
time another  infamous  lie  was  circulated,  A  wicked 
baptized  Jewess  declared  that  the  Breslau  Jews  had 
once  before  burnt  a  host,  and  that,  on  another  occa- 
sion, they  had  kidnaped  a  Christian  boy,  fattened 
him,  and  put  him  into  a  cask  studded  with  sharp 
nails,   which  they   rolled  about   until   their   victim 


gave  up  the  ghost.  His  blood  had  been  distributed 
among  the  Silesian  communities.  Even  the  bones 
of  the  murdered  child  were  alleged  to  have  been 
found.  The  guilt  of  the  Jews  appeared  established 
in  these  various  cases,  and  a  large  number,  in  all 
318  persons,  were  arrested  in  different  localities, 
and  brought  to  Breslau.  Capistrano  sat  in  judg- 
ment upon  them,  and  hurried  them  to  execution. 
At  the  Salzring — now  Bliicherplatz — where  Capis- 
trano resided,  forty-one  convicted  Jews  were  burnt 
on  one  day  (2d  June,  1453).  ^^^  rabbi  (Phineas?) 
hanged  himself;  he  had  also  counseled  others  to 
take  their  own  lives.  The  remainder  were  banished 
from  Breslau,  all  their  children  under  seven  years 
of  age  having  previously  been  taken  from  them 
by  force,  baptized,  and  given  to  Christians  to  be 
brought  up.  This  was  Capistrano's  wish,  and  in  a 
learned  treatise  he  explained  to  King  Ladislaus 
that  it  was  in  consonance  with  the  Christian  religion 
and  orthodoxy.  The  honest  town  clerk,  Eschenloer, 
who  did  not  venture  to  protest  aloud  against  these 
barbarities,  wrote  in  his  diary,  "  Whether  this  is 
godly  or  not,  I  leave  to  the  judgment  of  the  min- 
isters of  religion."  The  ministers  of  religion  had 
transformed  themselves  Into  savages.  The  goods 
of  the  burnt  and  banished  Jews  were,  of  course, 
seized,  and  with  their  proceeds  the  Bernardine 
church  was  built.  It  was  not  the  only  church 
erected  with  bloody  money.  In  the  remaining  Sile- 
sian towns  the  Jews  fared  no  better.  Some  were 
burnt,  and  the  rest  chased  away,  stripped  almost  to 
the  skin. 

When  the  young  king,  Ladislaus,  was  petitioned 
by  the  Breslau  town  council  to  decree  that  from  that 
time  forward  no  Jew  would  be  allowed  to  settle  in 
Breslau,  not  only  did  he  assent  "for  the  glory  of 
God  and  the  honor  of  the  Christian  faith,"  but  he 
added,  in  approval  of  the  outrages  committed,  "that 
they  (the  Silesian  Jews)  had  suffered  according  to 

CH.  VIII.  THE   JEWS   OF    POLAND.  263 

their  deserts,"  a  remark  worthy  of  the  son  of  Albert 
II,  who  had  burnt  the  Austrian  Jews.  The  same 
monarch  also  sanctioned — doubtless  at  the  instiga- 
tion of  Capistrano,  who  passed  several  months  at 
Olmiitz — the  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  the  latter 
place  and  from  Briinn. 

The  echoes  of  Capistrano's  venomous  eloquence 
reached  even  Poland,  disturbing  the  Jewish  communi- 
ties there  from  the  tranquillity  they  had  enjoyed  for 
centuries.  Poland  had  long  been  a  refuge  for  hunted 
and  persecuted  Jews.  Exiles  from  Germany,  Aus- 
tria and  Hungary  found  a  ready  welcome  on  the 
Vistula.  The  privileges  generously  granted  them 
by  Duke  Boleslav,  and  renewed  and  confirmed  by 
King  Casimir  the  Great,  were  still  in  force.  The 
Jews  were,  in  fact,  even  more  indispensable  in  that 
country  than  in  other  parts  of  Christian  Europe ; 
for  in  Poland  there  were  only  two  classes,  nobles 
and  serfs,  and  the  Jews  supplied  the  place  of  the 
middle  class,  providing  merchandise  and  money, 
and  bringing  the  dead  capital  of  the  country  into 
circulation.  During  a  visit  which  Casimir  IV  paid 
to  Posen  shortly  after  his  accession,  a  fire  broke 
out  in  this  already  important  city,  and,  with  the 
exception  of  its  few  brick  houses,  it  was  totally  de- 
stroyed. In  this  conflagration,  the  original  document 
of  the  privileges  granted  the  Jews  a  century  before 
by  Casimir  the  Great  perished.  Jewish  deputations 
from  a  number  of  Polish  communities  waited  upon 
the  king,  lamenting  the  loss  of  these  records,  so 
important  to  them,  and  praying  that  new  ones  might 
be  prepared  according  to  existing  copies,  and  that 
all  their  old  rights  might  be  renewed  and  confirmed. 
Casimir  did  not  require  much  persuasion.  In  order 
that  they  might  live  in  security  and  contentment 
under  his  happy  reign,  he  granted  them  privileges 
such  as  they  had  never  before  enjoyed  in  any  Euro- 
pean state  (14th  August,  1447).  This  king  was  in 
no  respect  a  slave  of  the  church.     So  strictly  did  he 


keep  the  clergy  within  bounds  that  they  charged  him 
with  persecuting  and  robbing  them.  He  forbade 
their  meddHng  in  affairs  of  state,  saying  that  in  such 
matters  he  preferred  to  rely  on  his  own  powers. 

Either  the  king  was  misled  by  a  false  copy  of  the 
original  charters,  or  he  desired  to  avail  himself  of 
the  opportunity  of  enlarging   their   scope  without 
appearing  to  make  fresh  concessions  ;  at  all  events, 
the  privileges  accorded  under  the  new  statute  were, 
in  many  respects,  more  considerable  than  those  for- 
merly enjoyed  by  the  Jews.     Not  alone  did  it  per- 
mit unrestricted  trading  and  residence  all  over  the 
then  very  extensive  kingdom  of  Poland,  but  it  an- 
nulled canonical  laws  often  laid  down  by  the  popes, 
and  only  recently  re-enacted  by  the  general  church 
council  of  Basle.     Casimir's  charter  mentioned  that 
Jews  and  Christians  might  bathe  together,  and  in 
all  respects  enjoy  free  intercourse  with  each  other. 
It   emphatically   decreed   that   no    Christian    could 
summon  a  Jew  before  an  ecclesiastical  tribunal,  and 
that  if  a  Jew  was  so  summoned,  he  need  not  ap- 
pear.   The  palatines  in  their  several  provinces  were 
enjoined  to  see  that  the  Jews  were  not  molested  by 
the  clergy,  and  generally  to  extend  to  them  powerful 
protection.     Furthermore;  no  Jew  might  be  accused 
of  using  Christian  blood  in  the  Passover  ceremo- 
nies,  or  of  desecrating  hosts,    "Jews  being  inno- 
cent of  such  offenses,  which  are  repudiated  by  their 
religion."     If  a  Christian  charged  an  individual  Jew 
with  using  Christian  blood,  his  accusation  had  to  be 
supported  by  native,  trustworthy  Jewish  witnesses 
and  four  similarly  qualified  Christian  witnesses,  and 
then  the  accused  was  to  suffer  for  his  crime,  and  his 
co-religionists  were  not  to  be  dragged  into  it.     In 
the  event,  however,  of  the    Christian    accuser  not 
being  in  a  position  to  substantiate  his  charge  by 
credible   testimony,   he  was  to   be   punished   with 
death.     This  was   a   check   on  ever-recurring   cal- 
umny with  its  train  of  massacres  of  Jews.     Casi- 


mir  also  recognized  the  judicial  autonomy  of  the 
Jewish  community.  In  criminal  cases  between  jews, 
or  between  jews  and  Christians,  the  ordinary  tri- 
bunals were  not  to  interfere,  but  the  palatine,  or  his 
representative,  assisted  by  Jews,  was  to  adjudicate. 
In  minor  law-suits  the  decision  was  to  rest  with  the 
Jewish  elders  (rabbis),  who  were  permitted  to  inflict 
a  fine  of  six  marks  in  cases  where  their  summonses 
were  not  obeyed.  To  keep  the  authority  of  the 
Jewish  courts  within  reasonable  bounds,  Casimir's 
charter  enacted  that  the  ban  should  be  pronounced 
on  a  Jew  only  with  the  concurrence  of  the  entire 
community.  Truly,  in  no  part  of  Christian  Europe 
were  the  Jews  possessed  of  such  important  privi- 
leges. They  were  renewed  and  issued  by  the  king 
with  the  assent  of  the  Polish  magnates.  Also  the 
Karaite  communities  of  Troki,  Luzk,  etc.,  received 
from  Casimir  a  renewal  and  confirmation  of  the 
privileges  granted  them  by  the  Lithuanian  Duke 
Witold  in  the  thirteenth  century. 

The  clergy  looked  with  jealous  eyes  on  this  com- 
plaisance to  the  Jews,  and  zealously  worked  to  in- 
duce the  king  to  change  his  friendly  attitude.  At 
the  head  of  the  Polish  priesthood  thus  hostile  to  the 
Jews  stood  the  influential  bishop  and  cardinal  of 
Cracow,  Zbigniev  Olesnicki.  The  protection  ac- 
corded the  Jews  and  Hussites  by  the  king  was  to 
him  a  source  of  deep  chagrin,  and,  to  give  effective 
vent  to  his  feelings,  he  sent  in  hot  haste  for  the 
heretic-hunter  Capistrano.  Capistrano  entered  Cra- 
cow in  triumph,  and  was  received  by  the  king  and 
the  clergy  like  a  divine  being.  During  the  whole  of 
his  stay  in  Cracow  (August  28th,  1453,  to  May, 
1454),  aided  by  Bishop  Zbigniev,  he  stirred  up  King 
Casimir  against  the  Hussite  heretics  and  the  Jews. 
He  publicly  remonstrated  with  him  on  the  subject, 
threatening  him  with  hell-fire  and  an  unsuccessful 
issue  to  his  war  with  the  Prussian  order  of  knights, 
if  he  did  not  abolish  the  privileges  enjoyed  by  Jews, 


and  abandon  the  Hussite  heretics  to  the  church.  It 
was  easy  to  predict  a  defeat  at  the  hands  of  the 
Prussian  knights,  seeing  that  the  pope  and  the  whole 
of  the  PoHsh  church  were  secretly  assisting  them 
against  Casimir. 

Therefore,  when  the  Teutonic  knights,  in  aid  of 
their  Prussian  allies,  took  the  jfield  against  Poland, 
and  the  Polish  army,  with  King  Casimir  at  its  head, 
was  ignominiously  put  to  flight  (September,  1454), 
the  game  of  the  clerical  party  was  won.  They  spread 
the  rumor  that  the  disaster  to  Poland  was  a  conse- 
quence of  the  king's  favor  to  Jews  and  heretics.  To 
retrieve  his  fallen  fortunes,  and  to  undertake  a  vig- 
orous campaign  against  the  Prussians,  Casimir 
needed  the  assistance  of  Bishop  Zbigniev,  and  the 
latter  was  in  a  position  to  make  his  own  terms.  The 
Jews  were  sacrificed — the  king  was  compelled  to 
give  them  up.  In  November,  1454,  Casimir  revoked 
all  the  privileges  he  had  granted  the  Jews,  on  the 
ground  that  "infidels  may  not  enjoy  preference  over 
the  worshipers  of  Christ,  and  servants  may  not  be 
better  treated  than  sons."  By  public  criers  the 
king's  resolve  was  made  known  throughout  the  land. 
Besides,  Casimir  ordered  that  the  Jews  of  Poland 
wear  a  special  costume  to  distinguish  them  from 
Christians.  Capistrano  was  victorious  all  along  the 
line.  Through  him  the  Jews  were  abased  even  in  the 
land  where  they  had  been  most  exalted.  The  results 
of  this  misfortune  were  not  long  in  showing  them- 
selves. The  Jewish  communities  mournfully  wrote 
to  their  brethren  in  Germany,  *'that  'the  monk'  had 
brought  grievous  trouble,"  even  to  those  who  lived 
under  the  scepter  of  the  king  of  Poland,  whose  lot 
had  formerly  been  so  happy  that  they  had  been  able 
to  offer  a  refuge  to  the  persecuted  of  other  lands. 
They  had  not  believed  that  an  enemy  could  reach 
them  across  the  Polish  frontier ;  and  now  they  had 
to  groan  under  the  oppression  of  the  king  and  the 


Meanwhile,  heavy  but  deserved  judgment  de- 
scended on  Christendom.  After  an  existence  of 
more  than  a  thousand  years  the  sin-laden  Byzantine 
empire,  which  had  stood  its  ground  for  centuries  in 
spite  of  its  rottenness,  had  at  length  collapsed  with 
the  fall  of  Constantinople  (May  29th,  1453).  The 
Turkish  conqueror,  Mahomet  II,  had  given  New 
Rome  over  to  slavery,  spoliation,  massacre,  and 
every  horror  and  outrage,  yet  had,  by  no  means, 
requited  the  wrongs  she  had  inflicted  on  others  and 
herself.  From  Constantine,  the  founder  of  the  By- 
zantine empire,  who  placed  a  blood-stained  sword 
in  the  hands  of  the  church,  to  the  last  of  the  emper- 
ors, Constantine  Dragosses,  of  the  Palaeologus  fam- 
ily, everyone  in  the  long  series  of  rulers  (with  the 
exception  of  the  apostate  Julian)  was  more  or  less 
inspired  by  falsehood  and  treachery,  and  an  arro- 
gant, hypocritical,  persecuting  spirit.  And  the  peo- 
ple, as  well  as  the  servants  of  state  and  church, 
were  worthy  of  their  rulers.  From  them  the  Ger- 
man, Latin  and  Slavonic  peoples  had  derived  the 
principle  that  the  Jews  ought  to  be  degraded  by 
exceptional  laws,  or  even  exterminated.  Now,  how- 
ever, Byzantium  itself  lay  shattered  in  the  dust,  and 
wild  barbarians  were  raising  the  new  Turkish  em- 
pire on  its  site.  Heavy  vengeance  had  been  ex- 
acted. Mahomet  II,  the  conqueror  of  Constanti- 
nople, threw  a  threatening  glance  at  the  remainder 
of  Europe,  the  countries  of  the  Latin  Church.  The 
whole  of  Christendom  was  in  danger  ;  yet  the  Chris- 
tian rulers  and  nations  were  unable  to  organize  an 
effective  resistance  against  the  Turkish  conquerors. 
The  perfidy  and  corruption  of  the  papacy  now  bore 
bitter  fruit.  When  the  faithless  pope,  Nicholas  V, 
called  upon  Christendom  to  undertake  a  crusade 
against  the  Turks,  his  legates  at  the  diet  of  Ratis- 
bon  were  compelled  to  listen  to  unsparing  denunci- 
ation of  his  corruption.  Neither  the  pope  nor  the 
emperor,  they  were  told,  had  any  reaj  thought  of 

268  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  Vlll. 

undertaking  a  war  against  the  Turks ;  their  sole  idea 
was  to  squander  upon  themselves  the  money  they 
might  collect.  When  the  Turks  made  preparations 
to  invade  Hungary,  and  threatened  to  carry  the  vic- 
torious crescent  from  the  right  to  the  left  side  of  the 
Danube,  Capistrano  preached  himself  hoarse  to 
kindle  enthusiasm  for  a  new  crusade.  His  tirades 
had  ceased  to  draw.  Their  only  effect  was  to  aS' 
semble  a  ragged  mob  of  students,  peasants,  mendi- 
cant friars,  half-starved  adventurers  and  romantic 
fanatics.  The  ghost  of  mediaevalism  vanished  before 
the  dawn  of  a  new  day. 

It  seems  almost  providential  that,  at  a  moment 
when  the  persecutions  in  Europe  were  increasing  in 
number  and  virulence,  the  new  Turkish  empire 
should  have  arisen  to,  offer  an  hospitable  asylum  to 
the  hunted  Jews.  When,  three  days  after  the 
chastisement  which  he  inflicted  on  Constantinople, 
the  sultan,  Mahomet  II,  proclaimed  that  all  the  fugi- 
tive inhabitants  might  return  to  their  homes  and 
estates  without  fear  of  molestation,  he  gave  a  benev- 
olent thought  to  the  Jews.  He  permitted  them  to 
settle  freely  in  Constantinople  and  other  towns, 
allotted  them  special  dwelling-places,  and  allowed 
them  to  erect  synagogues  and  schools.  Soon  after 
his  capture  of  Constantinople,  he  ordered  the  elec- 
tion of  a  Greek  patriarch,  whom  he  invested  with  a 
certain  political  authority  over  all  the  Greeks  in  his 
new  dominions,  and  also  nominated  a  chief  rabbi  to 
preside  over  the  Hebrew  communities.  This  was  a 
pious,  learned,  upright  Israelite,  named  Moses 
Kapsali.  Mahomet  even  summoned  this  rabbi  to 
the  divan,  and  singled  him  out  for  special  distinction, 
giving  him  a  seat  next  to  the  mufti,  the  Chief  Ulema 
of  the  Mahometans,  and  precedence  over  the  patri- 
arch. Moses  Kapsali  (born  about  1420,  died  about 
1495),  also  received  from  the  sultan  a  kind  of  political 
suzerainty  over  the  Jewish  communities  in  Turkey. 
The  taxes  imposed  upon  the  Jews  he  had  to  appor- 


tion  among  communities  and  individuals ;  he  had  to 
superintend  their  collection  and  to  pay  them  into 
the  sultan's  exchequer.  He  was  furthermore 
empowered  to  inflict  punishment  on  his  co-religion- 
ists, and  no  rabbi  could  hold  office  without  his  sanc- 
tion. In  short,  he  was  the  chief  and  the  official  rep- 
resentative of  a  completely  organized  Jewish  com- 
munal system. 

This  favorable  situation  of  the  Jews  had  a  stimu- 
lating effect  on  the  degenerate  Karaites,  who  mi- 
grated in  considerable  numbers  from  Asia,  the 
Crimea  and  southern  Poland,  to  take  up  their  abode 
with  their  more  happily  placed  brethren  in  Con- 
stantinople and  Adrianople.  The  Karaites,  whose 
fundamental  principle  is  the  study  and  reasonable 
interpretation  of  the  Bible,  were  in  so  lamentable  a 
state  of  ignorance,  that  their  entire  religious  struct- 
ure had  become  a  system  of  authorized  dogmas 
and  traditions  more  rigid  even  than  that  of  the  Rab- 
banites.  The  extent  of  their  intellectual  decline 
may  be  measured  by  the  fact  that  in  the  course  of  a 
century  they  failed  to  produce  a  single  moderately 
original  theological  writer.  Those  w^ith  a  bent  for 
study  were  compelled  to  sit  at  the  feet  of  Rabbanite 
teachers  and  receive  from  them  instruction  in  the 
Scriptures  and  the  Talmud.  The  proud  masters  of 
Bible  exegesis  had  become  the  humble  disciples  of 
the  once  despised  Rabbanites.  The  petrifaction  of 
Karaism  is  illustrated  by  an  event  in  European 
Turkey.  A  Karaite  college,  consisting  of  Mena- 
chem  Bashyasi,  his  son  Moses  Bashyasi,  Menachem 
Maroli,  Michael  the  Old,  his  son  Joseph,  and  a  few 
others,  had  permitted  the  lights  necessary  for  the 
Sabbath  eve  to  be  prepared  on  Friday,  so  that  the 
holy  day  need  not  be  spent  in  darkness.  The  col- 
lege gave  adequate  reasons  for  the  innovation. 
According  to  a  Karaite  principle,  not  only  an  eccle- 
siastical authority,  but  any  individual  is  justified  in 
abolishing  an  ancient  custom,  or  annulling  former 


decisions,  if  he  can  cite  sufficient  exegetical  author- 
ity. Nevertheless,  stormy  opposition  arose  (about 
1460)  against  this  decision,  aimed  at  a  custom  de- 
rived, perhaps,  from  Anan,  the  founder  of  Karaism, 
and  hence  possessing  the  sacredness  conferred  by 
the  rust  of  seven  centuries.  Schism  and  friction 
were  the  result.  The  section  of  the  community 
which  ventured  to  prepare  the  lights  required  for 
the  Sabbath  eve  was  abused,  and  charged  with 
heresy.  Moreover,  the  schism  relating  to  the  com- 
mencement of  the  festivals  was  still  unhealed.  The 
Palestinian  Karaite  communities  and  their  neigh- 
bors continued  to  distinguish  between  an  ordinary 
and  a  leap  year  by  the  state  of  the  barley  harvest, 
and  to  regulate  their  festivals  by  the  appearance  of 
the  new  moon.  On  the  other  hand,  the  communi- 
ties in  Turkey,  the  Crimea,  and  southern  Poland, 
used  the  calendar  of  the  Rabbanites.  These  heredi- 
tary differences  were  eating  more  and  more  into  the 
solidarity  of  the  sect,  for  there  was  no  means  of 
composing  them,  and  agreeing  upon  uniform  prin- 

The  conspicuous  decrepitude  of  Karaism  and  the 
ignorance  of  its  followers  afforded  the  Rabbanites 
in  the  Turkish  empire  an  opportunity  for  reconciling 
them  to  Talmudic  Judaism,  or,  at  least,  overcoming 
their  bitter  hostility  towards  it.  Rabbanite  teachers, 
Enoch  Saporta,  an  immigrant  from  Catalonia, 
Eliezer  Kapsali,  from  Greece,  and  Elias  Halevi, 
from  Germany,  stipulated  that  their  Karaite  pupils, 
whom  they  instructed  in  the  Talmud,  should 
thenceforward  abstain,  in  writing  and  in  speech, 
from  reviling  Talmudic  authorities,  and  from 
desecrating  the  festivals  of  the  Rabbanite  calendar. 
In  the  difficult  position  in  which  studiously  inclined 
Karaites  found  themselves,  they  could  not  do 
otherwise  than  give  this  promise.  The  Turkish 
chief  rabbi,  Moses  Kapsali,  was  of  opinion  that,  as 
the  Karaites  rejected  the  Talmud,  they  might  not  be 

CH.  VIII.  TURKEY.  l%t 

taught  in  It.  But  he  was  a  disciple  of  the  strict 
German  school,  which,  in  its  gloomy  ultra-piety, 
would  allow  no  concessions,  even  thougrh  the 
gradual  conversion  of  a  dissenting  sect  could  be 

When  contrasted  with  the  miserable  condition  of 
the  Jews  in  Germany,  the  lot  of  those  who  had 
taken  up  their  abode  in  the  newly-risen  Turkish 
empire  must  have  seemed  unalloyed  happiness. 
Jewish  immigrants  who  had  escaped  the  ceaseless 
persecutions  to  which  they  had  been  subjected  in 
Germany  expressed  themselves  in  terms  of  rapture 
over  the  happy  condition  of  the  Turkish  Jews.  Un- 
like their  co-religionists  under  Christian  rule,  they 
were  not  compelled  to  yield  up  the  third  part  of 
their  fortunes  in  royal  taxes  ;  nor  were  they  in  any 
way  hindered  in  tlie  conduct  of  business.  They 
were  permitted  to  dispose  of  their  property  as  they 
pleased,  and  had  absolute  freedom  of  movement 
throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  empire. 
They  were  subject  to  no  sumptuary  laws,  and  were 
thus  able  to  clothe  themselves  in  silk  and  gold,  if 
they  chose. 

The  fruitful  lands  taken  from  the  slothful  Greek 
Christians  were  occupied  by  them,  and  offered  rich 
reward  to  their  industry.  Turkey  was,  in  short, 
correctly  described  by  an  enthusiastic  Jew  as  a  land 
"in  which  nothing,  absolutely  nothing,  is  wanting." 
Two  young  immigrants,  Kalmann  and  David, 
thought  that  if  German  Jews  realized  but  a  tenth 
part  of  the  happiness  to  be  found  in  Turkey,  they 
would  brave  any  hardships  to  get  there.  These  two 
young  men  persuaded  Isaac  Zarfati,  who  had  jour- 
neyed in  Turkey  in  earlier  times,  and  whose  name 
was  by  no  means  unknown  in  Germany,  to  write  a 
circular  letter  to  the  Jews  of  the  Rhineland,  Styria, 
Moravia  and  Hungary,  to  acquaint  them  with  the 
happy  lot  of  Jews  under  the  crescent  as  compared 
with  their  hard  fate  under  the  shadow  of  the  cross. 

2/2  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  VUl. 

and  to  call  upon  them  to  escape  from  the  German 
house  of  bondage  and  emigrate  to  Turkey.  The 
lights  and  shadows  of  his  subject  could  not  have 
been  more  sharply  defined  than  they  are  in  Zarfati's 
letter  (written  in  1456),  whose  graphic,  often  some- 
what too  artificial  language  does  not  readily  lend 
itself  to  translation : 

*'  I  have  heard  of  the  afflictions,  more  bitter  than 
death,  that  have  befallen  our  brethren  in  Germany 
— of  the  tyrannical  laws,  the  compulsory  baptisms 
and  the  banishments.  And  when  they  flee  from  one 
place,  a  yet  harder  fate  befalls  them  in  another.  I 
hear  an  insolent  people  raising  its  voice  in  fury 
against  the  faithful ;  I  see  its  hand  uplifted  to  smite 
them.  On  all  sides  I  learn  of  anguish  of  soul  and 
torment  of  body  ;  of  daily  exactions  levied  by  mer- 
ciless extortioners.  The  clergy  and  the  monks, 
false  priests,  rise  up  against  the  unhappy  people  of 
God  and  say :  *  Let  us  pursue  them  even  unto  de- 
struction ;  let  the  name  of  Israel  be  no  more  known 
among  men.*  They  imagine  that  their  faith  is  in 
danger  because  the  Jews  in  Jerusalem  might,  per- 
adventure,  buy  the  Church  of  the  Sepulcher.  For 
this  reason  they  have  made  a  law  that  every  Jew 
found  upon  a  Christian  ship  bound  for  the  East 
shall  be  flung  Into  the  sea.  Alas  !  how  evilly  are 
the  people  of  God  in  Germany  entreated ;  how 
sadly  is  their  strength  departed  !  They  are  driven 
hither  and  thither,  and  they  are  pursued  even  unto 
death.  The  sword  of  the  oppressor  ever  hangs 
over  their  heads  ;  they  are  flung  into  the  devouring 
flames,  into  swift  flowing  rivers  and  into  foul 
swamps.  Brothers  and  teachers !  friends  and  ac- 
quaintances !  I,  Isaac  Zarfati,  from  a  French  stock, 
born  in  Germany,  where  I  sat  at  the  feet  of  my 
teachers,  I  proclaim  to  you  that  Turkey  is  a  land 
wherein  nothing  is  lacking.  If  ye  will,  all  shall  yet 
be  well  with  you.  The  way  to  the  Holy  Land  lies 
open  to  you  through  Turkey.     Is  it  not  better  for 


you  to  live  under  Moslems  than  under  Christians  ? 
Here  every  man  may  dwell  at  peace  under  his  own 
vine  and  his  own  fig-tree.  In  Christendom,  on  the 
contrary,  ye  dare  not  clothe  your  children  in  red  or 
in  blue,  according  to  your  taste,  without  exposing 
them  to  insult  and  yourselves  to  extortion ;  and, 
therefore,  are  ye  condemned  to  go  about  meanly 
clad  in  sad-colored  raiment.  All  your  days  are  full 
of  sorrow,  even  your  Sabbaths  and  the  times 
appointed  for  feasting.  Strangers  enjoy  your  goods ; 
and,  therefore,  of  what  profit  is  the  wealth  of  your 
rich  men  ?  They  hoard  it  but  to  their  own  sorrow, 
and  in  a  day  it  is  lost  to  them  for  ever.  Ye  call 
your  riches  your  own — alas !  they  belong  to  your 
oppressors.  They  bring  false  accusations  against 
you.  They  respect  neither  age  nor  wisdom  ;  and, 
though  they  gave  you  a  pledge  sealed  sixty-fold,  yet 
would  they  break  it.  They  continually  lay  double 
punishments  upon  you,  a  death  of  torment  and  con- 
fiscation of  goods.  They  prohibit  teaching  in  your 
schools  ;  they  break  in  upon  you  during  your  hours 
of  prayer ;  and  they  forbid  you  to  work  or  conduct 
your  business  on  Christian  feast-days.  And  now, 
seeing  all  these  things,  O  Israel,  wherefore  sleepest 
thou  ?  Arise,  and  leave  this  accursed  land  for 

Isaac  Zarfati's  appeal  induced  many  Jews  to  emi- 
grate forthwith  to  Turkey  and  Palestine.  Their 
grave  demeanor,  extreme  piety,  and  peculiar  ap- 
parel at  once  distinguished  them  from  the  Jews 
of  Greece  and  the  Orient,  and  ere  long  the  new- 
comers exercised  considerable  influence  upon  the 
other  inhabitants  of  the  countries  in  which  they 

There  were  peculiar  circumstances  connected 
with  the  prohibition  of  the  emigration  of  Jews  to 
Palestine.  The  Jewish  inhabitants  of  Jerusalem 
had  obtained  permission  from  a  pasha  to  build  a 
synagogue  on  one  of  the   slopes  of  Mount  Zion. 


The  site  of  this  synagogue  adjoined  a  piece  of  land 
owned  by  Franciscan  monks,  or  rather  containing 
the  ruins  of  one  of  their  chapels,  known  as  David's 
chapel.  When  this  permission  was  given  to  the 
Jews,  the  monks  raised  as  much  clamor  as  though 
all  Palestine,  including  the  Holy  City,  had  been 
their  peculiar  inheritance  since  the  beginning  of 
time.  They  forthwith  carried  their  complaints  to 
the  pope,  and  represented  that,  if  the  Jews  were 
permitted  to  take  such  liberties  as  this,  it  would  not 
be  long  before  they  took  possession  of  the  Church 
of  the  Holy  Sepulcher  itself.  The  pope  at  once  is- 
sued a  bull  directing  that  no  Christian  shipowner 
should  convey  Jewish  emigrants  to  the  Holy  Land. 
As  the  Levantine  trade  was  at  that  time  almost  en- 
tirely in  the  hands  of  the  Venetians,  the  doge  was 
prevailed  upon  to  issue  stringent  orders  to  all  the 
shipmasters  of  the  mainland  and  the  islands  not  to 
give  passage  to  Palestine  to  any  Jews. 

It  is,  indeed,  strange  that,  while  the  Christian 
powers  were  under  the  impression  that  they  had 
hemmed  in  the  children  of  Israel  on  all  sides  like 
hunted  animals,  the  Turks  of  Eastern  Europe 
opened  a  way  of  escape  to  them.  Ere  another 
half  century  had  passed,  their  Spanish  brethren, 
savagely  hunted  from  the  Peninsula,  were  destined 
to  seek  the  same  asylum. 

It  must,  however,  be  admitted  that  under  the 
sway  of  the  Castilian  king,  Henry  IV,  and  that  of 
John  II,  of  Aragon,  the  condition  of  the  Spanish 
Jews  was  one  of  comparative  peace  and  comfort. 
But  it  was  the  calm  that  went  before  the  storm. 
The  doubly  impotent  Castilian  king  was  gentle  to  a 
degree  ill-befitting  a  ruler  of  men.  Although,  as 
Infante,  Don  Henry  had  allowed  himself  to  be  per- 
suaded by  his  partisans  to  replenish  his  exhausted 
coffers  by  plundering  the  houses,  not  only  of  the 
Jews,  but  also  of  the  new-Christians  or  converts 
from  Judaism,  he  had  no  personal  antipathy  to  the 


people  of  Israel.  A  Jewish  physician  was  his  con- 
fidential minister.  Not  long  after  his  accession  to 
the  throne  he  had  even  sent  him  to  the  Portuguese 
court  on  the  most  delicate  mission  of  obtaining  the 
hand  of  the  young,  beautiful  princess  of  Portugal 
for  his  sovereign.  The  Jewish  diplomatist  brought 
his  mission  to  a  successful  conclusion,  but  was  as- 
sassinated in  the  hour  of  his  success. 

In  spite  of  the  papal  bull  and  the  repeated  or- 
dinances of  the  cities,  Don  Henry  employed  a 
Jewish  farmer  of  taxes,  one  Don  Chacon,  a  native 
of  Vitoria  ;  and  he,  too,  fell  a  sacrifice  to  his  office. 
A  rabbi,  Jacob  Ibn-Nunez,  his  private  physician,  was 
appointed  by  Henry  to  apportion  and  collect  the 
tribute  of  the  Jews  of  Castile ;  while  Abraham 
Bibago,  yet  another  Jew  of  eminence,  stood  high 
in  the  favor  of  John  II  of  Aragon. 

The  example  of  the  courts  naturally  affected  the 
greater  nobles,  who,  when  their  own  interests  were 
not  concerned,  troubled  themselves  very  little  about 
ecclesiastical  edicts.  The  practice  of  medicine  was 
still  entirely  in  the  hands  of  Jews,  and  opened 
to  them  the  cabinets  and  the  hearts  of  kings  and 
nobles.  It  was  in  vain  that  papal  bulls  proclaimed 
that  Christians  should  not  employ  Jewish  physicians. 
There  were  few  or  no  Christians  who  understood 
the  healing  art,  and  the  sick  had  no  recourse  save 
to  the  skill  of  the  Jews.  Even  the  higher  clergy 
had  but  little  regard  for  the  bulls  of  Eugenius, 
Nicholas,  and  Calixtus.  They  had  too  much  care 
for  the  health  of  the  flesh  to  refuse  the  medical 
aid  of  the  Jews  on  account  of  a  canonical  decree. 
Most  of  the  tyrannical  restrictions  belonging  to  the 
minority  of  John  II  and  the  times  of  the  regent 
Catalina  were  completely  forgotten.  Only  on  one 
point  did  Henry  insist  with  rigor.  He  would  not 
permit  the  Jews  to  clothe  themselves  luxuriously. 
This  was  partly  on  account  of  his  own  preference 
for  simplicity   of   dress,    partly    because    he  was 


desirous  that  the  envy  of  Christians  should  not  be 
excited  against  them.  Under  the  mild  rule  of  Don 
Henry,  the  Jews  who  had  been  more  or  less  com- 
pulsorily  baptized  either  returned  to  their  faith,  or 
at  least  observed  the  Jewish  ritual  unmolested. 
During  the  Feast  of  the  Passover  they  lived  upon 
rice  entirely  in  order,  on  the  one  hand,  to  partake 
of  nothing  leavened,  and,  on  the  other,  to  avoid  the 
suspicion  of  Judaism. 

Hatred  of  the  Jew,  which  burnt  most  fiercely  in 
the  great  towns,  naturally  made  it  impossible  for 
the  orthodox  to  behold  without  indignation  this 
favoritism  towards  the  supposed  enemies  of  their 
faith,  and  they  made  use  of  a  weapon  whose  efficacy 
had  been  proved  in  other  lands.  The  cry  went 
forth :  The  Jews  have  put  Christian  children  to 
death!  Then  came  the  report  that  "a  Jew  in  the 
neighborhood  of  Salamanca  had  torn  a  child's  heart 
out ;"  or,  "Jews  elsewhere  have  cut  pieces  of  flesh 
out  of  a  living  Christian  child,"  and  so  on.  By 
means  of  such  rumors,  the  fanaticism  of  the  mob 
was  speedily  inflam.ed,  the  magistrates  took  up  the 
matter,  and  the  accused  Jews  were  thrown  into 

The  king,  well  aware  of  the  origin  and  object  of 
these  accusations,  had  them  thoroughly  sifted,  with 
the  result  that  the  innocence  of  the  accused  was 
completely  established.  Nothwithstanding  this  fact, 
the  enemies  of  the  Jews  maintained  their  guilt. 
Some  insiuuated  that  the  judges  had  been  bribed ; 
while  others  asserted  that  the  new-Christians  had 
exerted  themselves  in  behalf  of  their  kinsmen,  and 
that  the  king  himself  was  partial  to  them. 

Among  all  their  enemies  the  man  who  raged  most 
bitterly  and  fiercely  against  the  Spanish  Jews  was  a 
preacher  in  Salamanca,  Alfonso  de  Spina,  a  Franciscan 
monk,  of  the  same  order  and  opinions  as  Capistrano. 
Instead  of  the  venomed  tongue,  he  used  the  poi- 
soned pen  against  them.  This  man  enjoyed  a  certain 

CH.  VIII.  ALFONSO    DE   SPINA.  2,^^ 

amount  of  fame,  because  he  happened  to  have  ac- 
companied Alvaro  de  Luna,  the  once  all-powerful 
minister  of  John  II,  to  the  scaffold  as  his  confessor. 
This  bigoted  priest  thundered  unceasingly  from  the 
altar  steps  against  the  Jews  and  their  patrons,  and 
especially  against  the  new-Christians  as  secret  ad- 
herents of  their  former  faith.  As  his  preaching  did 
not  appear  to  him  to  produce  sufficient  effect,  De 
Spina  issued,  in  1460,  a  virulent  work  in  Latin,  di- 
rected against  Jews,  Moslems,  and  other  heretics, 
under  the  title  "Fortalitium  Fidei."  In  this  book 
he  collected  everything  that  the  enemies  of  the  Jews 
had  ever  written  or  said  against  them.  He  repro- 
duced every  absurd  legend  and  idle  tale  that  he 
could  procure,  and  seasoned  the  whole  collection 
with  every  device  of  rhetoric  that  his  malice  could 
suggest.  In  his  opinion  it  was  only  right  and  natural 
that  all  Moslems  and  heretics  should  be  extermi- 
nated root  and  branch.  Against  the  Jews,  however, 
he  proposed  to  employ  apparently  lenient  measures. 
He  would  simply  take  their  younger  children  from 
them,  and  bring  them  up  as  Christians,  an  idea  for 
which  he  was  indebted  to  the  scholastic  philosopher. 
Duns  Scotus,  and  his  fellow  Franciscan,  Capistrano. 
De  Spina  most  deeply  deplored  that  the  various 
laws  for  the  persecution  of  the  Jews,  promulgated 
during  the  minority  of  John  II,  were  no  longer  in 
force  under  his  successor.  In  most  trenchant  words 
he  rebuked  the  king,  the  nobles  and  the  clergy  for 
the  favor  that  they  showed  to  Jews ;  and,  in  order 
to  inflame  the  mob,  he  untiringly  retailed  all  the  old 
fables  of  child-murder,  theft  of  the  host,  and  the 
like,  in  the  most  circumstantial  narrative,  and  in- 
sinuated that  the  partiality  of  the  king  permitted 
these  abominable  crimes  to  go  unpunished. 

The  fanaticism  aroused  by  Alfonso  de  Spina  was 
by  no  means  without  effect ;  indeed,  the  most  la- 
mentable consequences  ere  long  resulted  from  it. 
A  monk,  crucifix  in  hand,  proposed  a  general  mas- 

2/8  HISTORY    OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

sacre  of  the  Jews  of  Medina  del  Campo,  near  Val- 
ladolid,  and  his  words  were  favorably  received.  The 
inhabitants  of  the  town  fell  upon  the  Jews,  and  burnt 
several  of  them  alive  with  the  sacred  books  which 
they  happened  to  find  in  their  possession.  Murder 
was  naturally  followed  by  plunder  of  the  victims' 
goods.  The  king  had  the  ringleaders  of  this  out- 
rage punished ;  but  this  was  all  that  he  could  do. 
He  was  unable  to  prevent  a  recurrence  of  such 
scenes.  He  had  been  compelled  to  recognize  the 
abject  position  of  the  Jews  officially  in  the  statute 
book  which  his  advisers,  his  secret  enemies,  Don 
Pacheco,  Marquis  of  Villena,  and  the  Count  of 
Valencia,  prepared  at  his  request.  Don  Pacheco, 
who  by  his  intrigues  brought  both  king  and  country 
to  confusion,  was  himself  of  Jewish  blood,  his  mother, 
who  had  married  a  Spanish  noble,  being  the  daugh- 
ter of  a  Jew  named  Ruy  Capron.  Notwithstanding 
this  fact,  he  included  the  most  odious  enactments  in 
Don  Henry's  revised  statute  book.  All  the  earlier 
disabilities  were  revived  :  the  exclusion  of  Jews  from 
all  offices,  even  from  practice  as  apothecaries,  the 
wearing  of  distinctive  badges,  restriction  to  the  Jew- 
ries of  towns,  and  even  confinement  to  their  houses 
during  Holy  Week. 

The  civil  war  kindled  by  the  intrigues  of  Don 
Pacheco  and  other  courtiers  through  the  burlesque 
deposition  of  Don  Henry  in  Avila,  and  the  corona- 
tion of  his  younger  brother,  Alfonso,  bore  more 
heavily  on  the  Jews  than  even  on  the  general  popu- 
lation of  Castile. 

In  1467  Alfonso's  party  had  by  treason  become 
master  of  Segovia,  and  immediately  a  riot  against 
the  Jews  began  here.  The  enemies  of  this  unhappy 
people  spread  the  report  that,  on  the  suggestion  of 
their  rabbi,  Solomon  Picho,  the  Jews  of  the  little 
community  of  Sepulveda,  not  far  from  Segovia,  had 
during  Holy  Week  so  cruelly  tortured  a  Christian 
child  that  it  died  upon  the  cross  (April,  1468).     On 


the  motion  of  Bishop  Juan  Arias,  of  Avila,  of  Jew- 
ish race,  several  Jews  (eight  or  sixteen,  according  to 
different  accounts),  whom  the  popular  voice  had  ac- 
cused, were  hauled  from  Sepulveda  to  Segovia,  and 
there  condemned  to  the  stake,  the  gallows  and  the 
bowstring,  whereupon  the  Christians  of  Sepulveda 
fell  upon  the  few  remaining  Jews  of  the  community, 
massacred  some,  and  hunted  the  rest  from  the  neigh- 
borhood. Is  it  not  strange  that  in  Castile  and  in 
Silesia,  in  Italy  and  in  Poland,  the  selfsame  accusa- 
tions were  raised,  and  followed  by  the  same  sen- 

Scarcely  was  Alfonso's  party  dissolved  by  the 
death  of  its  puppet  king  before  another  sprang  up, 
which  professed  to  defend  the  rights  of  the  Infanta 
Isabella,  sister  of  Don  Henry.  The  utter  weakness 
which  Henry  betrayed  encouraged  the  rebels  to 
make  the  most  outrageous  assaults  upon  his  pre- 
rogatives. The  cortes  convened  at  Ocana  in  1469, 
wishing  to  humiliate  him,  took  up  the  Jewish  ques- 
tion. They  reminded  him  of  the  laws  of  his  ances- 
tors, and  told  him  to  his  face  that  he  had  violated 
these  laws  by  endowing  Jews  with  the  chief  offices 
in  the  collection  of  the  royal  revenues.  They  further 
asserted  that,  owing  to  this  distinguished  example, 
even  princes  of  the  church  had  farmed  out  the  rev- 
enues of  their  dioceses  to  Jews  and  Moslems,  and 
that  the  tax-farmers  actually  levied  their  contribu- 
tions in  the  churches.  In  conclusion,  they  insisted 
that  the  edicts  be  once  more  stringently  enforced, 
and  that  heavy  penalties  be  imposed  for  their  trans- 

The  finances  of  this  monarch,  who,  in  consequence 
of  his  liberality  and  the  expense  of  putting  down 
the  ever-recurring  revolts  against  his  authority,  was 
in  constant  need  of  money,  would  have  been  in  a 
sorry  condition  had  he  intrusted  them  to  Christian 
tax-farmers.  The  latter  bid  only  a  small  amount 
for  the  privilege ;  moreover,  they  might  have  made 


use  of  the  rebellious  factions  to  rid  themselves  of 
their  obligations.  A  king  who  said  to  his  treasurer: 
"  Give  to  these  that  they  may  serve  me,  and  to  those 
that  they  may  not  rob  me ;  to  this  end  I  am  king, 
and  have  treasures  and  revenues  for  all  purposes  " 
— such  a  king  could  not  dispense  with  Jewish 

Thus  there  existed,  in  Castile,  an  antagonism 
between  the  edicts  against  the  Jews  and  the  inter- 
ests of  the  state  ;  and  this  antagonism  roused  the 
mob,  inspired  alike  by  ecclesiastical  fanaticism  and 
envious  greed  against  their  Jewish  fellow-townsmen, 
to  the  perpetration  of  bloody  outrages.  The  fury 
of  the  orthodox  was  also  excited  against  the  new- 
Christians,  or  Marranos,  because,  happier  than  their 
former  fellow-believers,  they  were  promoted  to  the 
highest  offices  in  the  state  by  reason  of  their  superior 

The  marriage  of  the  Infanta  Isabella  with  Don 
Ferdinand,  Infante  of  Aragon,  on  the  19th  of  Octo- 
ber, 1469,  marked  a  tragical  crisis  in  the  history  of 
the  Spanish  Jews.  Without  the  knowledge  of  hei* 
royal  brother,  and  in  open  breach  of  faith — since  she 
had  solemnly  promised  to  marry  only  with  his  con- 
sent— she  had  followed  the  advice  of  her  intriguing 
friends,  and  had  given  her  hand  to  the  Prince  of 
Aragon,  who,  both  in  Jewish  and  in  Spanish  history, 
under  the  title  of  "The  Catholic,"  has  left  an 
accursed  memory  behind  him.  Don  Abraham 
Senior  had  promoted  this  marriage,  hoping  by  it  to 
increase  the  welfare  of  his  brethren.  Many  new 
complications  arose  in  Castile  out  of  this  union. 
Isabella's  partisans,  anticipating  that  under  her  rule 
and  that  of  her  husband  the  persecution  of  the  Jews 
would  be  made  legal,  took  up  arms  in  Valladolid, 
Isabella's  capital,  and  fell  upon  the  new-Christians 
(September,  1470).  The  victims  assumed  the  de- 
fensive, but  were  soon  compelled  to  surrender. 
Thereupon  they  sent  a  deputation  to  Henry,  beg- 


ging  him  to  protect  them.  The  king  did,  indeed, 
collect  troops,  and  march  against  the  rebelhous  city, 
but  he  had  to  be  grateful  that  he  himself  was  well 
received  by  the  citizens,  and  could  not  think  of  pun- 
ishing even  the  ringleaders. 

Two  years  later  the  new-Christians  underwent  a 
persecution,  which  surely  must  have  caused  them  to 
repent  having  taken  shelter  at  the  foot  of  the  cross. 
The  religious  populace  blamed  the  Marranos,  not 
altogether  without  reason,  for  confessing  Christian- 
ity with  their  lips  while  in  their  souls  they  despised 
it.  It  was  said  that  they  either  did  not  bring  their 
children  to  be  baptized,  or  if  they  were  baptized, 
took  them  back  to  their  houses  and  washed  the  stain 
of  baptism  off  their  foreheads.  They  used  no  lard 
at  their  tables,  only  oil ;  they  abstained  from  pork, 
celebrated  the  Jewish  Passover,  and  contributed 
oil  for  the  use  of  the  synagogues.  They  were 
further  said  to  have  but  small  respect  for  cloisters, 
and  were  supposed  to  have  profaned  sacred  relics 
and  debauched  nuns.  The  new-Christians,  were,  in^ 
fact,  looked  upon  as  a  cunning  and  ambitious  set  of 
people,  who  sought  eagerly  for  the  most  profitable 
offices,  thought  only  of  accumulating  riches,  and 
avoided  hard  work.  They  were  believed  to  con- 
sider themselves  as  living  in  Spain  as  Israel  did  in 
Egypt,  and  to  hold  it  to  be  quite  permissible  to 
plunder  and  outwit  the  orthodox.  These  accusa- 
tions were  not  by  any  means  merited  by  the  new- 
Christians  as  a  body,  but  they  served  to  inflame  the 
mob,  and  caused  it  to  hate  the  converts  even  more 
bitterly  than  the  Jews  themselves. 

The  outbreak  above  referred  to  arose  as  follows  : 
A  certain  princess  was  going  through  the  streets  of 
Cordova  with  the  picture  of  the  Virgin  under  a  can- 
opy, and  a  girl,  a  new-Christian,  either  by  accident 
or  design,  poured  some  water  out  of  a  window  on 
the  canopy.  The  consequence  was  a  frenzied  rising 
against  the  converted  Jews.     An  excited  smith  in- 


cited  the  Christian  mob  to  avenge  the  insult  offered 
to  the  holy  picture — for  it  was  said  that  the  girl  had 
poured  something  unclean  upon  it — and  in  an  in- 
stant her  father's  house  was  in  flames.  The  nobles 
sought  to  defend  the  Marranos,  and  in  the  skirmish, 
the  smith  was  killed.  This  so  enraged  the  already 
furious  mob  that  the  men-at-arms  were  forced  to  re- 
tire. The  houses  of  the  new-Christians  were  now 
broken  into,  plundered,  and  then  reduced  to  ashes  ; 
while  those  who  had  not  been  able  to  save  them- 
selves by  flight  were  massacred  in  the  most  barbar- 
ous manner  (March  14th — 15th,  1472).  The  fugi- 
tives were  hunted  like  wild  beasts  in  the  chase. 
Wherever  they  were  seen,  the  most  horrible  death 
inevitably  awaited  them.  Even  the  peasant  at  work 
in  the  field  struck  them  down  without  ado.  The 
slaughter  which  thus  began  at  Cordova  spread 
rapidly  from  town  to  town.  Those  of  the  Cordovan 
fugitives  who  had  found  a  temporary  refuge  in 
Palma  lost  no  time  in  seeking  a  stronghold  to  afford 
them  protection  from  the  tempest  of  persecution. 
One  of  their  company,  Pedro  de  Herrera,  held  in 
the  highest  respect  both  by  his  fellow-sufferers  and 
the  governor,  De  Aguilar,  went  to  Seville  to  seek  an 
interview  with  the  duke  of  Medina-Sidonia,  lieuten- 
ant-governor of  the  province.  He  asked  for  the 
fortress  of  Gibraltar  as  a  city  of  refuge  for  himself 
and  his  brethren,  under  their  own  command.  In 
return,  he  promised  to  pay  a  considerable  yearly 
tribute.  The  duke  had  signified  his  consent  to  this 
proposition,  and  the  new-Christians  had  betaken 
themselves  to  Seville  to  sign  the  contract,  when  the 
friends  of  the  duke  took  alarm.  They  believed  that 
the  Marranos  were  not  to  be  trusted,  and  expressed 
the  fear  that  they  might  enter  into  an  alliance  with 
the  Moors,  and  deliver  the  key  of  the  Spanish  coast 
into  their  hands.  The  duke,  however,  insisted  upon 
completing  the  contract,  whereupon  the  opponents 
of  the  scheme  gave  the  signal  to  the  mob  of  Seville, 


which  instantly  rose  against  the  new-Christians  in 
an  outburst  of  fanatical  frenzy.  It  was  with  diffi- 
culty that  the  governor  protected  them.  They  were 
forced  to  return  hastily  to  Palma,  were  waylaid  by 
the  country  people,  and  ill-treated  and  plundered 


Thus  the  plan  of  Pedro  de  Herrera  and  his 
friends  served  only  to  bring  greater  misery  upon 
them,  endangering  the  whole  body  of  new-Chris- 
tians as  well  a?  the  Jews  themselves.  As  early  as 
this,  the  idea  took  shape  among  both  the  converted 
and  the  unbaptized  Jews  to  leave  the  now  in- 
hospitable Peninsula  and  emigrate  to  Flanders  or 

Attacks  upon  the  new-Christians  were  now  so 
frequent  that  they  suggested  to  the  cunning  and 
ambitious  minister,  Pacheco,  the  means  of  carrying 
out  a  coup  d'etat.  This  unscrupulous  intriguer,  who 
for  two  decades  had  kept  Castile  in  constant  con- 
fusion, saw  with  secret  chagrin  that  the  reconcilia- 
tion of  Don  Henry  with  his  sister  and  successor 
bade  fair  to  completely  annul  his  influence.  To  bring 
about  new  complications  he  determined  to  gain 
possession  of  the  citadel  (Alcazar)  of  Segovia,  at 
that  time  occupied  by  the  king.  With  this  end  in 
view,  he  instigated,  through  his  dependents,  another 
assault  upon  the  baptized  Jews,  during  the  confusion 
of  which  his  accomplices  were  to  seize  Cabrera,  the 
governor  of  the  castle,  and,  if  possible,  the  king 
himself.  The  conspiracy  was  betrayed  only  a  few 
hours  before  it  was  to  be  carried  into  action  ;  but 
the  attack  upon  the  new-Christians  was  perpetrated. 
Armed  bands  perambulated  the  streets  of  Segovia, 
broke  into  the  houses  of  the  Marranos,  and  slew 
every  man,  woman  and  child  that  fell  into  their 
hands  (May  i6th,  1474). 

The  crowning  misfortune  of  the  Jewish  race  in 
Spain  came  in  the  death  of  Don  Henry  in  the  fol- 
lowing December.     The  rulers  of  the  united  king- 

284  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

doms  of  Aragon  and  Castile  now  were  his  sister, 
the  bigoted  Isabella,  who  was  led  by  advisers  hostile 
to  the  Jews,  and  Ferdinand,  her  unscrupulous  hus- 
band, who  pretended  to  be  excessively  pious.  Sad 
and  terrible  was  the  fate  that  impended  over  the 
sons  of  Jacob  throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of 
the  Pyrenean  Peninsula. 



Position  of  the  Jews  of  Italy — The  Jewish  Bankers — Yechiel  of  Pisa 
— His  Relations  with  Don  Isaac  Abrabanel — Jewish  Physicians, 
Guglielmo  di  Portaleone — Revival  of  Learning  among  Italian 
Jews — Messer  Leon  and  Elias  del  Medigo — Pico  di  Mirandola,  the 
Disciple  of  Medigo— Predilection  of  Christians  for  the  Kabbala 
— Jochanan  Aleman — Religious  Views  of  Del  Medigo — German 
Rabbis  immigrate  into  Italy — ^Joseph  Kolon,  his  Character  and 
his  Feud  with  Messer  Leon — Judah  Menz  an  Antagonist  of  Del 
Medigo — Bemardinus  of  Feltre — Jews  banished  from  Trent 
on  a  False  Charge  of  Child-Murder — The  Doge  of  Venice 
and  Pope  Sixtus  IV  befriend  the  Jews — Sufferings  of  the  Jews  of 
Ratisbon — Israel  Bruna — Synod  at  Nuremberg — Emperor  Fred- 
erick in. 

1474 — 1492  C.E. 

The  Spanish  Jews  would  have  belied  their  native 
penetration  and  the  wisdom  born  of  bitter  experi- 
ence had  they  not  foreseen  that  their  position  would 
ere  long  become  unbearable. 

Because  they  did  foresee  it,  they  turned  their  gaze 
towards  those  countries  whose  inhabitants  were  most 
favorably  disposed  towards  Jews.  Italy  and  the 
Byzantine  Empire,  just  wrested  from  the  cross,  were 
now  the  countries  of  greatest  toleration.  In  Italy, 
where  men  saw  most  clearly  the  infamy  of  the  pa- 
pacy and  the  priesthood,  and  where  they  had  most  to 
suffer  from  their  selfishness,  the  church  and  her  ser- 
vants were  utterly  without  influence  over  the  peo- 
ple. The  world-wide  commerce  of  the  wealthy  and 
flourishing  republics  of  Venice,  Florence,  Genoa 
and  Pisa,  had  in  a  measure  broken  through  the  nar- 
row bounds  of  superstition,  and  enlarged  men's 
range  of  vision.  The  interests  of  the  market-place 
had  driven  the  interests  of  the  church  into  the  back- 
ground.    Wealth  and  ability  were  valued  even  in 


those  who  did  not  repeat  the  Catholic  confession  of 
faith.  Not  only  the  merchants,  but  also  the  most 
exalted  princes  were  in  need  of  gold  to  support  the 
mercenary  legions  of  their  Condottieri  in  their  daily 
feuds.  The  Jews,  as  capitalists  and  skillful  diplo- 
matists, were,  therefore,  well  received  in  Italy.  This 
is  proved  by  the  fact  that  when  the  city  of  Ravenna 
was  desirous  of  uniting  itself  to  Venice,  it  included 
among  the  conditions  of  union  the  demand  that 
wealthy  Jews  be  sent  to  it  to  open  credit-banks  and 
thus  relieve  the  poverty  of  the  populace. 

Jewish  capitalists  received,  either  from  the  reign- 
ing princes  or  the  senates,  in  many  Italian  cities, 
extensive  privileges,  permitting  them  to  open  banks, 
establish  themselves  as  brokers,  and  even  charge  a 
high  rate  of  interest  (20  per  cent).  The  archbishop 
of  Mantua  in  1476  declared  in  the  name  of  the  pope 
that  the  Jews  were  permitted  to  lend  money  upon 
interest.  The  canonical  prohibition  of  usury  could 
not  withstand  the  pressure  of  public  convenience. 
The  Jewish  communal  regulations  also  tended  to 
guard  the  bankers  from  illegal  competition,  for  the 
rabbis  threatened  with  the  ban  all  those  members  of 
the  community  who  lent  money  on  interest  without 
proper  authorization. 

A  Jew  of  Pisa,  named  Yechiel,  controlled  the 
money  market  of  Tuscany.  He  was,  by  no  means, 
a  mere  heartless  money-maker,  as  the  Christians 
were  wont  to  call  him,  but  rather  a  man  of  noble 
mind  and  tender  heart,  ever  ready  to  assist  the  poor 
with  his  gold,  and  to  comfort  the  unfortunate  by 
word  and  deed.  Yechiel  of  Pisa  was  also  familiar 
with  and  deeply  interested  in  Hebrew  literature,  and 
maintained  friendly  relations  with  Isaac  Abrabanel, 
the  last  of  the  Jewish  statesmen  of  the  Peninsula. 
When  Alfonso  V  of  Portugal  took  the  African  sea- 
board towns  of  Arzilla  and  Tangier,  and  carried  off 
Jews  of  both  sexes  and  every  age  captive,  the  Por- 
tuguese community  became  inspired  with  the  pious 

CU.  IX.  THE  JEWS  OF  ITALY.  28/ 

desire  to  ransom  them.  Abrabanel  placed  himself 
at  the  head  of  a  committee  to  collect  money  for  this 
purpose.  As  the  Portuguese  Jews  were  notable  to 
support  the  ransomed  prisoners  until  they  found 
means  of  subsistence,  Abrabanel,  in  a  letter  to  Ye- 
chiel  of  Pisa,  begged  him  to  make  a  collection  in 
Italy.     His  petition  was  heeded. 

The  Jews  of  Italy  were  found  to  be  desirable  citi- 
zens, not  only  for  their  financial  ability,  but  also  for 
their  skill  as  physicians.  In  his  letter  to  Yechiel, 
Abrabanel  asked  whether  there  were  Jewish  physi- 
cians in  the  Italian  states,  and  whether  the  princes  of 
the  church  employed  them.  "Physicians,"  he  said, 
"possess  the  key  to  the  hearts  of  the  great,  upon 
whom  the  fate  of  the  Jews  depends." 

A  celebrated  Jewish  doctor,  Guglielmo  (Benja- 
min?) di  Portaleone,  of  Mantua,  first  was  physician 
in  ordinary  to  Ferdinand  of  Naples,  who  ennobled 
him ;  he  next  entered  the  service  of  Duke  Galeazzo 
Sforza,  of  Milan,  and  in  1479  became  body  physician 
to  Duke  Ludovico  Gonzaga.  He  was  the  founder 
of  a  noble  house  and  of  a  long  line  of  skillful  Italian 
physicians.  There  even  arose  an  intimate  relation 
between  Jews  and  Christians  in  Italy.  When  a 
wealthy  Jew — Leo,  of  Crema — on  the  marriage  of 
his  son,  arranged  magnificent  festivities  which  lasted 
eight  days,  a  great  number  of  Christians  took  part, 
dancing  and  enjoying  themselves  to  the  intense  dis- 
pleasure of  the  clergy.  Totally  forgotten  seemed 
the  bull  in  which  Nicholas  V  had  quite  recently  for- 
bidden under  heavy  penalties  all  intercourse  of 
Christians  with  Jews,  as  well  as  the  employment  of 
Jewish  physicians.  In  place  of  the  canonically  pre- 
scribed livery  of  degradation,  the  Jewish  doctors 
wore  robes  of  honor  like  Christians  of  similar  stand- 
ing ;  while  the  Jews  connected  with  the  courts  wore 
golden  chains  and  other  honorable  insignia.  The 
contrast  between  the  condition  of  Jews  in  Italy  and 
that  of  their  brethren  in  other  lands  is  well  illustrated 


by  two  similar  incidents,  occurring  simultaneously  in 
Italy  and  Germany,  but  differing  greatly  in  their 

The  mother  of  a  family  in  Pavia,  in  consequence 
of  differences  with  her  husband,  had  given  notice  of 
her  desire  to  be  received  into  the  Catholic  Church. 
She  was  put  into  a  convent  where  she  was  to  be 
prepared  for  baptism.  The  bishop's  vicar,  with  other 
spiritual  advisers,  was  earnestly  occupied  with  the 
salvation  of  her  soul,  when  she  was  suddenly  seized 
with  remorse.  The  bishop  of  Pavia,  far  from  pun- 
ishing her  for  this  relapse,  or  seeking  to  oppose  her 
desire,  interceded  for  her  with  her  husband.  He 
advised  him  to  take  her  out  of  the  convent  forth- 
with, and  testified  most  favorably  as  to  her  behavior, 
so  that  her  husband,  a  descendant  of  the  family  of 
Aaron,  might  not  be  obliged,  under  the  Jewish  law, 
to  put  her  away. 

In  the  same  year  a  spiteful  fellow  in  Ratisbon,  Kal- 
mann,  a  precentor  (Chazan),  took  the  fancy  to  turn 
Christian.  He  frequented  the  convent,  attended 
church,  and  at  length  the  bishop  received  him  in  his 
house,  and  instructed  him  in  the  Christian  religion. 
To  curry  favor  with  the  Christians  he  calumniated 
his  fellow-believers  by  asserting  that  they  possessed 
blasphemous  writings  against  Christianity.  Kal- 
mann  also  came  to  rue  the  step  he  had  taken.  He 
secretly  attended  the  synagogue,  and  at  length,  dur- 
ing the  absence  of  the  bishop,  left  his  house,  and 
returned  to  the  Jews.  The  clergy  of  Ratisbon  were 
infuriated  against  him,  arraigned  him  before  the 
Inquisition,  and  charged  him  with  having  sought  to 
blaspheme  the  church,  God,  and  the  blessed  Virgin. 
He  was  specially  charged  with  having  said  that,  it 
baptized,  he  would  remain  a  Christian  only  till  he 
found  himself  at  liberty.  On  the  strength  of  this, 
he  was  condemned,  and  put  to  death  by  drowning. 

Wherever  even  a  little  indulgence  was  granted 
the  Jews,  their  dormant  energy  revived ;  and  the 

CH.  IX.  MESSER   LEON.  98$ 

Italian  Jews  were  able  to  display  it  all  the  sooner 
from  the  fact  that  they  had  gained  a  certain 
degree  of  culture  in  the  days  of  Immanuel  and 
Leone  Romano.  They  took  an  active  part  in  the 
intellectual  revival  and  scientific  renascence  which 
distinguished  the  times  of  the  Medici.  Jewish 
youths  attended  the  Italian  universities,  and  ac- 
quired a  liberal  education.  The  Italian  Jews  were 
the  first  to  make  use  of  the  newly-discovered  art 
of  Gutenberg,  and  printing-houses  soon  rose  in 
many  parts  of  Italy — in  Reggio,  Ferrara,  Pieva  di 
Sacco,  Bologna,  Soncino,  Iscion,  and  Naples.  In  the 
artistic  creations  of  the  time,  however,  in  painting 
and  sculpture,  the  Jews  had  no  share.  These  lay 
outside  their  sphere.  But  several  educated  Jews 
did  not  a  little  for  the  advancement  and  spread  of 
science  in  Italy.  Two  deserve  especial  mention ; 
Messer  Leon  and  Elias  del  Medigo,  the  latter  of 
whom  not  only  received  the  light  of  science,  but  also 
shed  it  abroad. 

Messer  Leon,  or,  by  his  Hebrew  name,  Judah 
ben  Yechiel,  of  Naples,  flourished  between  1450 
and  1490,  and  was  both  rabbi  and  physician  in 
Mantua.  In  addition  to  being  thoroughly  versed  in 
Hebrew  literature,  he  was  a  finished  Latin  scholar, 
and  had  a  keen  appreciation  of  the  subtleties  of 
Cicero's  and  Quintilian's  style.  Belonging  to  the 
Aristotelian  school,  he  expounded  several  of  the 
writings  of  the  philosopher  so  highly  esteemed  in 
synagogue  and  church,  and  wrote  a  grammar  and  a 
book  on  logic,  in  the  Hebrew  language,  for  Jewish 
students.  More  important  than  these  writings  is 
his  Hebrew  rhetoric  (Nofeth  Zufim),  in  which  he 
lays  down  the  laws  upon  which  the  grace,  force  and 
eloquence  of  the  higher  style  depend,  and  proves 
that  the  same  laws  underlie  sacred  literature.  He 
was  the  first  Jew  to  compare  the  language  of  the 
Prophets  and  Psalmists  with  Cicero's — certainly  a 
bardy  undertaking  in  those  days  when  the  majority 

290  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

of  Jews  and  Christians  held  the  Scriptures  in  such 
infinite  reverence  that  a  comparison  with  profane 
pagan  Hterature  must  have  seemed  a  species  of 
blasphemy.  Of  course,  this  was  possible  only  in  the 
times  of  the  Medici,  when  love  for  Greek  and  Latin 
antiquities  rose  to  positive  enthusiasm.  Messer 
Leon,  the  learned  rabbi  of  Mantua,  was  liberal  in 
all  respects.  He  was  never  weary  of  rebuking  the 
formal  pietists  for  striving  to  withhold  foreign  influ- 
ences from  Judaism,  as  though  it  could  be  profaned 
by  them.  He  was  rather  of  opinion  that  Judaism 
could  only  gain  by  comparisons  with  the  culture  of 
the  ancient  classical  literatures,  since  thereby  its 
beauty  and  sublimity  would  be  brought  to  light. 

Elias  del  Medigo,  or  Elias  Cretensis  (1463— 1498), 
the  scion  of  a  German  family  that  had  emigrated  to 
Crete,  is  a  striking  figure  in  later  Jewish  history. 
He  was  the  first  great  man  produced  by  Italian  Ju- 
daism. His  was  a  mind  that  shone  clearly  and  bril- 
liantly out  of  the  clouds  which  obscured  his  age ; 
the  mind  of  a  man  of  varied  and  profound  knowl- 
edge, and  of  both  classical  and  philosophical  culture. 
So  completely  had  he  assimilated  the  Latin  literary 
style  that  he  was  able,  not  only  to  issue  works  in 
that  language,  but  also  to  present  Hebrew  syntax 
under  Latin  analogies. 

Medigo  kept  aloof  from  the  vacuity  of  Italian 
sciolists,  who  were  under  the  spell  of  the  newly-dis- 
covered neo-Platonic  philosophy  introduced  by  Fi- 
cinus.  He  gave  allegiance  to  those  sound  thinkers, 
Aristotle,  Maimuni,  and  Averroes,  whose  systems 
he  made  known  to  Christian  inquirers  in  Italy,  by 
tongue  and  pen,  through  the  medium  of  transla- 
tions and  in  independent  works.  That  youthful 
prodigy  of  his  time.  Count  Giovanni  Pico  di  Miran- 
dola,  made  the  acquaintance  of  Medigo,  and  became 
his  disciple,  friend  and  protector.  Mirandola,  who 
was  a  marvel  by  reason  of  his  wonderful  memory, 
wide  erudition,  and  dialectic  skill,  and  was,  moreover, 

CH.  IX.  EUAS   DEL  MEDIGO.  89! 

on  friendly  terms  with  the  ruling  house  of  the  Medicis 
in  Tuscany,  learnt  from  his  Jewish  friend  the  He- 
brew language,  and  the  Arabic  development  of  the 
Aristotelian  philosophy,  but  he  might  also  have 
learnt  clearness  of  thought  from  him. 

On  one  occasion  a  quarrel  on  a  learned  subject 
broke  out  in  the  University  of  Padua.  The  profes- 
sors and  students  were  divided  into  two  parties, 
and,  according  to  Christian  custom,  were  on  the 
point  of  settling  the  question  with  rapier  and  pon- 
iard. The  University,  acting  with  the  Venetian 
senate,  which  was  desirous  of  ending  the  dispute, 
called  upon  Elias  del  Medigo  to  act  as  umpire. 
Everyone  confidently  expected  a  final  settlement 
from  his  erudition  and  impartiality.  Del  Medigo 
argued  out  the  theme,  and  by  the  weight  of  his 
decision  brought  the  matter  to  a  satisfactory  con- 
clusion. The  result  was  that  he  became  a  public 
lecturer  on  philosophy,  and  discoursed  to  large 
audiences  in  Padua  and  Florence.  The  spectacle 
was,  indeed,  notable.  Under  the  very  eyes  of  the 
papacy,  ever  striving  for  the  humiliation  and  enslave- 
ment of  the  Jews,  Christian  youths  were  imbibing 
wisdom  from  the  lips  of  a  Jewish  teacher.  Against 
the  protectors  of  Jews  in  Spain  it  hurled  the  thun- 
ders of  excommunication,  while  in  Italy  it  was  forced 
passively  to  behold  favors  constantly  showered  upon 
the  Jews  by  Christians. 

Pico  di  Mirandola,  a  scholar  rather  than  a  thinker, 
took  a  fancy  to  plunge  into  the  abysses  of  the  Kab- 
bala.  He  was  initiated  into  the  Kabbalistic  laby- 
rinth by  a  Jew,  Jochanan  Aleman,  who  had  emigrated 
from  Constantinople  to  Italy.  Aleman,  himself  a 
confused  thinker,  made  him  believe  that  the  secret 
doctrine  was  of  ancient  origin,  and  contained  the 
wisdom  of  the  ages.  Mirandola,  who  had  a  mar- 
velous faculty  of  assimilation,  soon  familiarized  him- 
self with  the  Kabbalistic  formulae,  and  discovered 
confirmations  of  Christian  dogma  in  them;  in  fact,  he 

292  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS,  CH.  IX. 

found  far  more  of  Christianity  than  of  Judaism. 
The  extravagances  of  the  Kabbala  demonstrated  in 
his  eyes  the  doctrines  of  the  Trinity,  the  Incarna- 
tion, Original  Sin,  the  Fall  of  the  Angels,  Purga- 
tory, and  Eternal  Punishment.  He  lost  no  time  in 
translating  several  Kabbalistic  writings  from  He- 
brew into  Latin  in  order  to  bring  this  occult  lore  to 
the  knowledge  of  Christian  readers.  Among  the 
nine  hundred  points  which  Pico,  at  the  age  of 
twenty-four,  pledged  himself  to  defend — to  which 
end  he  invited  all  the  learned  of  the  world  to  Rome, 
and  undertook  to  pay  the  cost  of  their  journeys — 
was  this  :  No  science  affords  more  certainty  as  to 
the  Godhead  of  Christ  than  Kabbala  and  magic ! 
Even  Pope  Sixtus  IV  (1471 — 1484)  was  by  this 
means  so  strongly  attracted  to  the  Kabbala  that  he 
was  eager  to  procure  Latin  translations  of  Kabbal- 
istic writings  for  the  benefit  of  the  Catholic  faith. 

It  is  a  striking  proof  of  his  sober  mind  and  healthy 
judgment  that  Elias  del  Medigo  kept  himself  aloof 
from  all  this  mental  effeminacy  and  childish  enthusi- 
asm for  the  pseudo-doctrine  of  the  Kabbala.  He 
had  profound  contempt  for  the  Kabbalistic  phantom, 
and  did  not  hesitate  to  expose  its  worthlessness. 
He  had  the  courage  openly  to  express  his  opinion 
that  the  Kabbala  is  rooted  in  an  intellectual  swamp, 
that  no  trace  of  this  doctrine  is  to  be  found  in  the 
Talmud,  that  the  recognized  authorities  of  ancient 
Judaism  knew  nothing  of  it,  and  that  its  supposed 
sacred  and  ancient  groundwork,  the  Zohar,  was  by 
no  means  the  work  of  the  celebrated  Simon  bar 
Yochai,  but  the  production  of  a  forger.  In  short,  he 
considered  the  Kabbala  to  be  made  up  of  the  rags 
and  tatters  of  the  neo-Platonic  school. 

Del  Medigo  had,  in  fact,  very  sound  and  healthy 
views  on  religion.  Although  a  warm  adherent  of 
Judaism,  entertaining  respect  also  for  its  Talmudic 
element,  he  was  yet  far  from  indorsing  and  accepting 
as  truth  all  that  appears  in  the  Talmud.     When  re- 


quested  by  one  of  his  Jewish  disciples,  Saul  Cohen 
Ashkenasi,  of  Candia,  to  give  his  confession  of  Jew« 
ish  faith,  especially  his  views  on  the  signs  which 
distinguish  a  true  religion,  Elias  Cretensis  issued  a 
small  but  pregnant  work,  "The  Investigation  of  Re- 
ligion" (Bechinath  ha-Dath),  which  gives  a  deep 
insight  into  his  methods  of  thought. 

It  cannot  be  maintained  that  Del  Medigo  sugges- 
ted novel  trains  of  thought  in  his  work.  In  general, 
the  Italians  were  not  destined  to  endow  Judaism 
with  new  ideas.  Moreover,  he  occupied  the  stand- 
point of  belief  rather  than  of  inquiry,  and  his  aim 
was  to  defend,  not  to  cut  new  paths.  Standing 
alone  in  the  mental  barrenness  of  his  age,  Del 
Medigo's  sound  views  are  like  an  oasis  in  the  desert. 
He  must  be  credited,  too,  with  having  recognized  as 
deformities,  and  with  desiring  to  remove,  the  addi- 
tions to  Judaism  by  Kabbalists  and  pseudo-philoso- 

Unfortunately,  the  rabbis  who  emigrated  from 
Germany  to  Italy  assumed  an  attitude  distincdy 
hostile  to  philosophical  investigation  and  its  pro- 
moters, Elias  del  Medigo  and  Messer  Leon.  With 
their  honest,  but  one-sided,  exaggerated  piety,  they 
cast  a  gloomy  shadow  wherever  their  hard  fate  had 
scattered  them.  Fresh  storms  breaking  over  the 
German  communities  had  driven  many  German  Jews, 
the  most  unhappy  of  their  race,  into  transalpine 
lands.  Under  Emperor  Frederick  III,  who  for  half 
a  century  had  with  astounding  equanimity  beheld 
most  shameless  insults  to  his  authority  on  the 
part  of  an  ambitious  nobility,  a  plundering  squire- 
archy, a  demoralized  clergy,  and  the  self-seeking 
patricians  of  the  smaller  towns,  the  Jewish  commu- 
nities but  too  often  saw  their  cup  of  bitterness  over- 
flow. Frederick  himself  was  by  no  means  hostile  to 
them.  On  the  contrary,  he  frequently  issued  decrees 
in  their  favor.  Unhappily,  his  commands  remained 
for  the  most  part  a  dead  letter,  and  his  laxity  of  rule 

294  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

encouraged  the  evil-minded  to  the  commission  of 
the  most  shameful  misdeeds.  It  was  dangerous  for 
the  German  Jews  to  go  beyond  the  walls  of  their 
cities.  Every  man  was  their  foe,  and  waylaid  them 
to  satisfy  either  his  fanaticism  or  his  cupidity.  Every 
feud  that  broke  out  in  the  decaying  German  empire 
brought  misery  to  them. 

Among  exiles  from  Mayence  were  two  profound 
Talmudic  scholars.  They  were  cousins,  by  name 
Judah  and  Moses  Menz.  The  former  emigrated  to 
Padua,  and  there  received  the  office  of  rabbi,  while 
the  latter  at  first  remained  in  Germany,  and  then 
passed  over  to  Posen.  As  the  result  of  expulsion 
or  oppression,  many  rabbis  were  emigrating  from  all 
parts  of  Germany,  and  on  account  of  their  superior 
Talmudic  knowledge  these  German  emigrants  were 
elected  to  the  most  distinguished  rabbinical  positions 
in  Italy.  They  re-indoctrinated  with  their  prejudice 
and  narrowness  of  vision  the  Italian  Jews,  who  were 
making  determined  efforts  to  free  themselves  from 
the  bonds  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  most  distinguished  rabbis  of  Italy  were  at 
that  time  Judah  Menz  and  Joseph  Kolon,  and  pre- 
cisely these  two  were  most  inimical  to  any  liberal 
manifestation  within  Judaism,  and  most  strenuously 
opposed  the  advocates  of  freedom.  Joseph  ben 
Solomon  Kolon  (flourished  1460 — 1490)  was  of 
French  extraction,  his  ancestors  having  been  ex- 
pelled from  France ;  but  he  passed  his  youth  in 
Germany,  and  belonged  to  the  German  school.  He 
subsequently  lived  with  his  relatives  in  Chambery 
until  the  Jews  were  hunted  out  of  Savoy.  With 
many  companions  in  misfortune  he  went  to  Lom- 
bardy,  where  he  gained  his  living  by  teaching; 
finally  he  became  rabbi  of  Mantua.  Endowed 
with  extraordinary  penetration,  and  fully  the  equal 
of  the  German  rabbis  in  the  depth  of  his  Talmudic 
learning,  Joseph  Kolon  was  celebrated  in  his  day  as 
a  Rabbinical  authority  of  the  first  magnitude,  and 

CH,  IX.  JOSEPH    KOLON.  ^Q$ 

his  academy  rivaled  the  German  school  itself.  He 
was  consulted  by  both  German  and  Italian  com- 
munities. On  scientific  subjects  and  all  matters  out- 
side the  Talmud  he  was  as  ignorant  as  his  German 
fellow-dignitaries.  A  resolute,  decided  nature, 
Joseph  Kolon  was  a  man  of  rigid  views  on  all 
religious  matters.  His  ruggedness  involved  him  in 
unpleasant  relations  with  Moses  Kapsali  in  Con- 
stantinople, and  in  a  heated  controversy  with  the 
cultured  Messer  Leon  in  his  own  community.  How- 
ever well  they  might  agree  for  a  time,  Joseph 
Kolon,  the  strict  Talmudist,  and  Messer  Leon,  the 
cultured  man  of  letters,  could  not  long  tolerate 
each  other.  When  the  conflict  between  them  broke 
out,  the  whole  community  of  Mantua  took  sides  in 
their  feud,  and  split  into  two  parties  as  supporters 
of  the  one  or  the  other.  The  strife  at  length  be- 
came so  keen  that  in  1476 — 1477  Duke  Joseph  of 
Mantua  banished  them  both  from  the  city;  after 
which  Kolon  became  rabbi  of  Pavia. 

Still  more  strained  were  the  relations  between  the 
rabbi  Judah  Menz  and  the  philosopher  Elias  del 
Medigo.  The  former  (born  1408,  died  1509),  a  man 
of  the  old  school,  of  comprehensive  knowledge  of 
Talmudic  subjects,  and  of  remarkable  sagacity,  was 
most  resolutely  opposed  to  scientific  progress  and 
freedom  in  religious  matters,  and  after  his  expulsion 
from  Mayence  transplanted  the  narrow  spirit  of  the 
German  rabbis  to  Padua  and  Italy  in  general. 

The  relatively  secure  and  honorable  position  of 
the  Jews  in  Italy  did  not  fail  to  rouse  the  displeasure 
of  fanatical  monks,  who  sought  to  cover  with  the 
cloak  of  religious  zeal  either  their  dissolute  conduct 
or  their  ambitious  share  in  worldly  affairs.  The 
colder  the  Christian  world  grew  towards  the  end  of 
the  fifteenth  century  with  regard  to  clerical  institu- 
tions, the  more  bitterly  did  the  monastic  orders  rage 
against  the  Jews.  Preaching  friars  made  the  chan- 
cels ring  with  tirades  against  them,  and  openly  ad- 

296  HISTORY    OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

vocated  their  utter  extermination.  Their  most 
desperate  enemy  at  this  time  was  the  Franciscan 
Bernardinus  of  Feltre,  a  worthy  disciple  of  the 
bloodthirsty  Capistrano.  The  standing  text  of  his 
sermons  was:  Let  Christian  parents  keep  a  watch- 
ful eye  on  their  children  lest  the  Jews  steal,  ill-treat, 
or  crucify  them. 

He  held  up  Capistrano,  the  Jew-slayer,  as  the  type 
and  model  of  a  true  Christian.  In  his  eyes  friendly 
and  neighborly  intercourse  with  Jews  was  an  abom- 
ination, a  most  grievous  sin  against  canonical  law. 
Christian  charity,  he  admitted,  directs  that  Jews, 
being  human,  be  treated  with  justice  and  human- 
ity; but  at  the  same  time  the  canonical  law  for- 
bids Christians  to  have  any  dealings  with  them, 
to  sit  at  their  tables,  or  to  allow  themselves  to 
be  treated  by  Jewish  physicians.  As  the  aristoc- 
racy everywhere,  in  obedience  to  their  own  inter- 
ests, took  the  part  of  the  Jews,  Bernardinus  inflamed 
the  lower  classes  against  the  Jews  and  their  patrons. 
Because  certain  Jewish  capitalists  had  been  success- 
ful, he  depicted  all  Jews  as  vampires  and  extor- 
tioners, and  roused  the  ill  will  of  the  populace 
against  them.  "  I,  who  live  on  alms  and  eat  the 
bread  of  the  poor,  shall  I  be  a  dumb  dog  and  not 
howl  when  I  see  the  Jews  wringing  their  wealth  from 
Christian  poverty?  Yea!  shall  I  not  cry  aloud  for 
Christ's  sake  ? "  Such  is  a  fair  specimen  of  his 

Had  the  Italian  people  not  been  actuated  by  strong 
good  sense,  Bernardinus  would  have  become  for 
the  Jews  of  Italy  what,  in  the  beginning  of  the  same 
century,  the  Dominican,  Vincent  Ferrer,  had  been 
to  the  Jews  of  Spain,  and  Capistrano,  to  the  com- 
munities of  Germany  and  the  Slav  countries.  The 
authorities  sorely  hindered  Bernardinus  in  his  busi- 
ness of  Jew-baiting,  and  his  bloodthirsty  sermons 
mostly  failed  of  effect.  When  he  was  conducting 
his  crusade  in  Bergamo  and  Ticini,  Duke  Galeazzo, 


of  Milan,  forbade  him  to  proceed.  In  Florence,  in 
fact  everywhere  in  Tuscany,  the  enlightened  prince 
and  the  senate  took  the  part  of  the  Jews  with  vigor. 
The  venomous  monk  spread  the  report  that  they 
had  allowed  themselves  to  be  bribed  with  large  sums 
by  Yechiel  of  Pisa  and  other  wealthy  Jews.  As 
Bernardinus  was  inciting  the  youth  of  the  city  against 
the  Jews,  and  a  popular  rising  was  imminent,  the 
authorities  ordered  him  to  quit  Florence  and  the 
country  forthwith,  and  he  was  compelled  to  submit 
(1487).  Little  by  little,  however,  by  dint  of  untir- 
ing repetition  of  the  same  charges,  he  managed  so 
far  to  inflame  public  opinion  against  the  Jews  that 
even  the  Venetian  senate  was  not  always  able  to 
protect  them.  Finally,  he  succeeded  in  bringing 
about  a  bloody  persecution  of  the  Jews,  not,  indeed, 
in  Italy,  but  in  the  Tyrol,  whence  it  spread  to  Ger- 

While  Bernardinus  was  preaching  in  the  city  of 
Trent,  he  remarked  with  no  little  chagrin  the  friendly 
relation  between  Jews  and  Christians.  Tobias,  a 
skillful  Jewish  physician,  and  an  intelligent  Jewess, 
named  Brunetta,  were  on  most  friendly  terms  with 
the  upper  classes,  enjoying  their  complete  confi- 
dence. This  roused  his  ire  not  a  little,  and  he  made 
the  chancels  of  Trent  ring  with  savage  tirades 
against  the  Jews.  Some  Christians  called  him  to 
account  for  his  hatred  of  Jews,  remarking  that 
though  they  were  without  the  true  faith,  those  of 
Trent  were  worthy  folk.  The  monk  replied:  "Ye 
know  not  what  misfortune  these  good  people  will 
bring  upon  you.  Before  Easter  Sunday  is  past  they 
will  give  you  a  proof  of  their  extraordinary  good- 
ness." It  was  easy  for  him  to  prophesy,  for  he  and 
a  few  other  priests  had  arranged  a  cunning  plan, 
which  not  only  brought  about  the  ruin  of  the  com- 
munity of  Trent,  but  also  caused  the  greatest  injury 
to  the  Jews  of  various  countries.  Chance  aided 
him  by  creating  a  favorable  opportunity. 

298  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

In  Holy  Week  of  1475  a  three-year-old  child, 
named  Simon,  the  son  of  poor  Christian  parents, 
was  drowned  in  the  Adige,  and  the  corpse  was 
caught  in  a  grating  close  to  the  house  of  a  Jew.  In 
order  to  anticipate  misrepresentation  of  the  event, 
he  hurried  to  Bishop  Hinderbach  to  give  him  notice 
of  the  occurrence.  The  bishop  took  two  men  of 
high  position  with  him,  went  to  the  place,  and  had 
the  body  carried  into  the  church.  As  soon  as  the 
news  spread,  Bernardinus  and  other  hostile  priests 
raised  a  fierce  outcry  against  the  Jews,  saying  that 
they  had  tortured  and  slain  the  child,  and  then  flung 
it  into  the  water.  The  body  of  the  supposititiously 
illtreated  child  was  exhibited,  in  order  to  inflame 
the  fury  of  the  populace  against  them.  The  bishop 
had  all  the. Jews  of  Trent,  high  and  low,  cast  into 
prison,  commenced  proceedings  against  them,  and 
called  a  physician,  Matthias  Tiberinus,  to  testify  to 
the  violent  death  of  the  child.  A  baptized  Jew, 
one  Wolfkan,  from  Ratisbon,  an  engrosser,  came 
forward  with  the  most  fearful  accusations  against  his 
former  co-religionists.  His  charges  the  more  readily 
found  credence  as  the  imprisoned  Jews  confessed 
under  torture  that  they  had  slain  Simon,  and  drunk 
his  blood  on  the  night  of  the  Passover.  Brunetta 
was  said  to  have  supplied  the  weapons  for  the  pur- 
pose. A  letter  also  was  said  to  have  been  found  in 
the  possession  of  a  rabbi,  Moses,  which  had  been 
sent  from  Saxony,  asking  for  Christian  blood  for  the 
next  Passover.  Only  one  of  the  tortured  victims,  a 
man  named  Moses,  endured  every  torment  without 
confirming  the  lying  accusations  of  his  enemies.  The 
result  was  that  all  the  Jews  of  Trent  were  burnt,  and 
it  was  resolved  that  no  Jew  should  thenceforth  settle 
in  the  city.  Four  persons  only  became  converts  to 
Christianity,  and  were  pardoned. 

The  bishop  of  Trent,  Bernardinus,  and  the  monks 
of  all  orders  made  every  effort  to  utilize  this  occur- 
rence for  the  general  ruin  of  the  Jews.     The  corpse 

CH.  IX.  SIMON  OP  TRENT.  9^ 

of  the  child  was  embalmed,  and  commended  to  the 
populace  as  a  holy  relic.  Thousands  made  pilgrim- 
ages to  its  remains,  and  ere  long  it  was  believed  by 
the  faith-drunken  pilgrims  that  they  had  seen  a  halo 
about  the  remains  of  the  child  Simon.  So  much  was 
said  about  it  that  even  its  inventors  came  to  believe 
in  the  martyrdom.  From  every  chancel  the  Domin- 
icans proclaimed  the  new  miracle,  and  thundered 
against  the  infamy  of  the  Jews.  Two  lawyers  from 
Padua  who  visited  Trent  in  order  to  convince  them- 
selves of  the  truth  of  the  occurrence  were  almost 
torn  to  pieces  by  the  fanatical  mob.  It  was  impera- 
tive that  the  man/el  be  believed  in,  and  so  the  Jews 
of  all  Christian  countries  were  jeopardized  anew. 
Even  in  Italy  they  dared  not  go  outside  the  towns 
lest  they  be  slain  as  child-murderers. 

The  doge,  Pietro  Mocenigo,  and  the  Venetian 
senate,  on  the  complaint  of  the  Jews  about  the  in- 
security of  their  lives  and  property',  issued  orders  to 
the  podesta  of  Padua  energetically  to  defend  them 
against  fanatical  outbreaks,  and  to  forbid  the  preach- 
ing friars  to  inflame  the  mob  against  them.  The 
doge  accompanied  the  orders  with  the  remark  that 
the  rumor  that  Jews  had  slain  a  Christian  child  in 
Trent  was  a  fabrication,  a  device  invented  by  their 
enemies  to  serve  some  purpose.  When  Pope  Sixtus 
IV  was  urged  to  canonize  little  Simon  he  steadfastly 
refused,  and  sent  a  letter  to  all  the  towns  of  Italy, 
on  October  loth,  1475,  forbidding  Simon  of  Trent 
to  be  honored  as  a  saint  until  he  could  investigate 
the  matter,  and  thus  he  allayed  the  popular  excite- 
ment against  the  Jews.  The  clergy,  nevertheless, 
permitted  the  bones  of  Simon  to  be  held  sacred,  and 
instituted  pilgrimages  to  the  church  built  for  his 

Through  this  circumstance  Jew  hatred  in  Germany 
gained  fresh  vigor.  The  citizens  of  Frankfort-on- 
the-Main  exhibited,  on  the  bridge  leading  to  Sachsen- 
hausen,  a  picture  representing  in  hideous  detail  a 


tortured  child,  and  the  Jews  leagued  with  the  devil 
in  their  bloody  work.  The  news  of  the  child-murder 
in  Trent  spread  like  wildfire  through  the  Christian 
countries,  and  became  the  source  of  new  sufferings 
to  Jews.  Nowhere  were  these  sufferings  so  severe 
as  in  the  free  city  of  Ratisbon,  containing  one  of  the 
oldest  Jewish  communities  in  South  Germany.  It 
was  held  to  be  not  only  very  pious  but  of  distin- 
guished morality,  and  it  was  considered  a  high 
honor  to  intermarry  with  the  Jews  of  Ratisbon. 
Within  the  memory  of  man  no  native  Jew  had  been 
brought  before  the  tribunal  for  any  moral  lapse. 
The  community  was  regarded  as  the  most  learned 
in  the  land,  and  the  parent  of  all  German  com- 
munities. It  possessed  chartered  liberties,  which 
the  emperors,  in  consideration  of  a  crown-tax,  were 
accustomed  to  renew  on  their  accession.  The  Jews 
of  Ratisbon  were  half  recognized  as  burghers,  and 
mounted  guard  with  the  Christians  as  militia.  One 
might  almost  say  that  the  Bavarian  princes  and 
corporations  vied  with  each  other  in  favoring  them 
— of  course,  merely  to  share  their  purses.  In  the 
latter  half  of  this  century  they  had  become  a  verita- 
ble bone  of  contention  between  the  Duke  of  Bava- 
ria-Landsberg  and  Frederick  III,  who,  hard  pressed 
on  all  sides,  not  only  in  the  empire,  but  even  in  his 
own  possessions,  hoped  to  fill  his  empty  coffers  with 
the  wealth  of  the  Jews. 

In  addition  to  these  the  Kamerau  family  made 
claims  upon  the  Jews  of  Ratisbon,  as  well  as  the 
town  council,  and,  of  course,  the  bishop.  These 
contradictory  and  mutually  hostile  demands  made 
the  position  of  the  Jews  anything  but  a  bed  of  roses. 
First  from  one  side  and  then  from  another  came 
orders  to  the  council  to  imprison  the  Jews,  their 
chiefs,  or  their  rabbi,  at  that  time  the  sorely-tried 
Israel  Bruna,  until,  worn  out  by  confinement,  they 
decided  to  pay  what  was  claimed.  The  council  did 
indeed  seek  to  shield  them,  but  only  so  long  as  no 


danger  threatened  the  citizens,  or  the  Jews  did  not 
compete  with  the  Christian  guildmembers. 

To  escape  these  cruel  and  arbitrary  extortions, 
prudence  directed  that  they  place  themselves  under 
the  protection  of  one  of  the  Hussite  nobles  or  cap- 
tains. They  would  thus  enjoy  more  security  than 
vvas  possible  under  the  so-called  protection  of  the 
emperor,  since  the  fiery  Hussites  were  not  a  little 
feared  by  the  more  sluggish  Germans.  Although 
they  had  to  some  extent  abandoned  their  heretical 
fanaticism,  and  had  taken  service  under  the  Catho- 
lic sovereigns,  their  desperate  valor  was  still  a 
source  of  terror  to  the  orthodox  clergy.  The  event 
proved  that  the  Jews  had  acted  wisely  in  appealing 
to  their  protection. 

A  bishop  named  Henry  was  elected  in  Ratisbon, 
a  man  of  gloomy  nature,  to  whom  the  sentiment  of 
mercy  was  unknown,  and  he  naturally  insisted  on 
the  enforcement  of  the  canonical  restrictions  against 
the  Jews.  As  examples  to  others,  for  instance,  he 
mercilessly  punished  a  Christian  girl  who  had 
entered  the  service  of  a  Jew,  and  a  Christian  barber 
who  had  let  blood  for  a  Jewish  customer.  His  ani- 
mosity was  contagious.  On  one  occasion,  when  the 
Jewish  midwife  was  sick,  and  a  Christian  was  about 
to  attend  some  Jewish  women,  the  council  actually 
dared  not  give  her  the  required  permission  without 
the  episcopal  sanction. 

Bishop  Henry  and  Duke  Louis,  one  in  their 
hatred  of  Jews,  now  pursued  what  seemed  to  be  a 
preconcerted  plan  for  the  ruin  or  conversion  of  the 
Jews  of  Ratisbon.  On  the  one  hand,  they  obtained 
the  acquiescence  of  the  pope,  and  on  the  other,  the 
assistance  of  influential  persons  on  the  city  council. 
Their  campaign  began  with  attempts  at  conversions 
and  false  accusations,  for  which  they  availed  them- 
selves of  the  assistance  of  a  couple  of  worthless 
converted  Jews.  One  of  these,  Peter  Schwarz  by 
name,   wrote    slanderous   and   abusive   pamphlets 

302  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

against  his  former  co-religionists.  The  other,  one 
Hans  Vayol,  heaped  the  vilest  calumnies  upon  the 
aged  rabbi,  Israel  Bruna,  amongst  other  things 
charging  him  with  purchasing  from  him  a  seven- 
year-old  Christian  child  and  slaughtering  it,  and  the 
rabbi  of  Ratisbon,  already  bowed  down  by  sorrow 
and  suffering,  was  charged  with  the  death  of  the 

Israel  Bruna  (of  Briinn,  born  1400,  died  1480) 
was  one  of  those  sons  of  sorrow  who  seem  to  fall 
from  one  misfortune  into  another.  He  appears  to 
have  been  exiled  from  Briinn,  where  he  was  recog- 
nized as  a  Rabbinical  authority,  and  after  many 
wanderings,  to  have  traveled  by  way  of  Prague  to 
Ratisbon.  He  settled  there,  and  wished  to  perform 
the  functions  of  rabbi  for  those  who  might  place 
confidence  in  him.  But  a  Talmudic  scholar  who 
resided  in  the  city,  one  Amshel,  a  layman,  not  an 
elected  rabbi,  raised  objections  to  his  competitor^ 
and  forbade  Israel  Bruna  to  hold  discourses  before^ 
disciples,  to  deal  with  matters  of  divorce,  to  exer- 
cise any  Rabbinical  functions,  or  to  divide  the 
honors  of  the  office  with  himself.  As  each  had  his 
followers,  a  schism  arose  in  the  community  of  Ratis- 
bon. His  two  teachers,  Jacob  Weil  and  Isserlein, 
upholders  of  the  freedom  of  the  Rabbinical  office 
and  pronounced  opponents  of  spiritual  officialism, 
took  the  part  of  the  persecuted  Israel  Bruna,  with 
whom  David  Sprinz,  a  rabbi  of  Nuremberg,  also 
took  sides.  These  men  proved  in  the  clearest  man- 
ner that  any  Jew  is  competent  to  assume  Rabbinical 
functions,  provided  he  possesses  the  requisite 
knowledge,  is  authorized  by  a  recognized  teacher, 
and  leads  a  pious  and  moral  life.  They  further^ 
adduced  in  favor  of  Israel  Bruna  the  fact  that  he 
contributed  his  quota  to  the  communal  treasury,  and 
was  therefore  a  worthy  member  of  the  community.. 
The  breach  nevertheless  remained  open,  and  Israel' 
Bruna  was  often  exposed  to  insults  from  the  oppo- 


site  party.  Once  when  he  was  about  to  hold  a  dis- 
course, several  of  the  ringleaders  left  the  lecture- 
room,  and  were  followed  by  many  others.  Disciples 
of  his  opponent  secretly  painted  crosses  on  his  seat 
in  the  synagogue,  wrote  the  hateful  word  "heretic" 
(Epicuros)  beside  them,  and  offered  other  insults  to 
him.  As  time  went  on,  after  the  death  of  the  great 
rabbis,  Jacob  Weil  and  Israel  Isserlein,  Bruna  was 
recognized  as  a  Rabbinical  authority,  and  from  far 
and  near  questions  were  sent  to  him.  His  misfor- 
tunes, however,  did  not  cease.  When  Emperor 
Frederick  demanded  the  crown-tax  from  the  com- 
munity of  Ratisbon,  Duke  Louis  opposed  the  pay- 
ment, and  the  council  was  unable  to  decide  which 
side  to  assist.  The  emperor  thereupon  threw  Israel 
Bruna  into  prison  to  force  him  to  threaten  his  peo- 
ple with  the  ban  if  they  did  not  pay  over  the  third 
part  of  their  possessions.  He  was  released  only  on 
bail  of  his  entire  property;  and,  in  addition,  the 
fearful  charges  of  child-murder  and  other  capital 
crimes  were  raised  against  the  decrepit  old  man  by 
the  converted  Jew,  Hans  Vayol.  Bishop  Henr)^  and 
the  clergy  were  only  too  ready  to  gratify  their 
hatred  of  Jews  by  means  of  this  accusation,  and 
the  besotted  populace  gave  all  the  more  credence 
to  the  falsehood,  as  rumors  of  the  death  of  Chris- 
tian children  at  the  hands  of  Jews  daily  increased. 
No  one  in  Ratisbon  doubted  that  gray  old  Israel 
Bruna  had  foully  murdered  a  Christian  child,  and  he 
was  on  the  point  of  being  put  to  death  on  the  de- 
mand of  the  clerg^^  To  withdraw  him  from  the  fury 
of  the  mob,  the  council,  which  feared  to  be  made 
answerable,  imprisoned  him. 

In  the  meantime  the  anxious  community  appealed, 
not  only  to  the  emperor,  but  also  to  the  Bohemian 
king.  Ladislaus,  more  feared  than  the  emperor;  and 
ere  long  stringent  directions  came  from  both  to  re- 
lease the  rabbi  instantly  without  ransom.  The  coun- 
cil, however,  excused  itself  on  the  plea  of  fear  of 

304  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX, 

the  bishop  and  the  mob.  Thereupon  followed  a 
mandate  from  the  emperor  to  defer  the  execution  of 
Israel  Bruna  until  he  came  to  the  diet  at  Augsburg. 
The  council  was  still  less  satisfied  with  this  order, 
for  it  feared  to  lose  its  jurisdiction  over  the  Jews.  It 
accordingly  prepared  to  take  decisive  action  in  the 
matter.  The  accuser,  Hans  Vayol,  was  led  on  the 
stone  bridge,  where  the  executioner  stood  in  readi- 
ness. He  was  informed  that  he  must  die,  and  ad- 
monished not  to  go  into  eternity  with  a  lie  on  his 
lips  The  hardened  sinner  maintained  his  accusa- 
tions against  the  Jews  in  general,  but  confessed  that 
the  rabbi,  Israel  Bruna,  was  innocent  of  the  charge 
of  child-murder,  and  on  receipt  of  another  rescript 
from  the  emperor,  Vayol  was  banished,  and  the  rabbi 
released  from  prison.  He  was,  however,  compelled 
to  take  an  oath  that  he  would  not  revenge  himself 
for  his  long  sufferings.  This  poor,  feeble  graybeard 
— how  could  he  have  avenged  himself? 

At  this  juncture  the  news  of  the  martyrdom  of 
Simon  of  Trent  reached  Ratisbon,  and  added  fuel  to 
the  fire.  Bishop  Henry  was  delighted  to  have  an 
opportunity  of  persecuting  the  Jews  with  impunity 
in  the  interest  of  the  faith.  He  had  heard  some- 
thing of  this  child-murder  on  his  journey  to  Rome. 
On  his  return,  he  urged  the  council  to  institute 
a  rigid  inquiry  respecting  the  Jews  accused  by 
Wolfkan.  The  result  of  the  extorted  confessions 
was  the  imprisonment  of  the  whole  community. 
Sentinels  stood  on  guard  day  and  night  at  the  four 
gates  of  the  Jewry  of  Ratisbon,  and  permitted  no 
one  to  enter  or  go  out.  The  possessions  of  the 
whole  community  were  confiscated  by  the  commis- 
sioners and  judges  who  took  an  inventory  of  every- 
thing. A  horrible  fate  threatened  the  unhappy  chil- 
dren of  Israel. 

This  trial,  which  caused  considerable  attention  in 
its  day,  proved  quite  as  prejudicial  to  the  citizens  as  to 
the  Jews  themselves.     Immediately  after  the  inquiry 


began,  several  Jews  of  Ratisbon  had  betaken  them- 
selves to  Bohemia  and  to  the  emperor,  and  tried  by 
every  means  to  save  their  unhappy  brethren.  They 
knew  that  to  explain  their  righteous  cause  gold,  and 
plenty  of  it,  would  be  above  all  things  necessary. 
For  this  reason  several  Bavarian  rabbis  assembled 
in  a  synod  at  Nuremberg,  and  decided  that  the  Ba- 
varian communities  and  every  individual  not  abso- 
lutely impoverished  should  contribute  a  quota  to 
make  up  the  amount  necessary  to  free  the  accused 
Jews  of  Ratisbon.  When  the  safety  of  their  breth- 
ren was  in  question,  the  Jews,  however  fond  they 
might  be  of  money,  were  by  no  means  parsimonious. 
The  intercession  of  the  Bohemian  nobles  under 
whose  protection  several  of  the  Ratisbon  commu- 
nity had  placed  themselves  led  to  no  result.  Far 
more  efficacious  were  the  golden  arguments  which 
the  ambassadors  of  the  community  laid  before  Em- 
peror Frederick  and  his  advisers.  It  is  only  just  to 
say  that  this  usually  feeble  sovereign  displayed  con- 
siderable ability  and  firmness  in  this  inquiry.  He 
was  so  strongly  convinced  of  the  falsehood  of  the 
blood  accusation  against  the  Jews  that  he  would  not 
allow  himself  to  be  deceived  by  any  trickery.  He 
dispatched  rescript  after  rescript  to  the  council  of 
Ratisbon,  ordering  the  immediate  release  of  the  im- 
prisoned Jews,  the  cessation  of  the  durance  of  the 
community,  and  the  restoration  of  their  property. 
The  council,  through  fear  of  the  bishop  and  the 
duke,  delayed  the  execution  of  the  order,  and  the 
emperor  became  furious  at  the  obstinacy  of  the  citi- 
zens when  news  was  brought  to  him  that,  in  spite  of 
the  imperial  command,  they  had  already  executed 
some  of  the  Jews.  He  thereupon  declared  the  city 
to  have  fallen  under  the  ban  of  the  empire  on  ac- 
count of  its  obstinate  disobedience,  and  summoned 
it  to  answer  for  its  contumacy.  At  the  same  time 
he  sent  the  imperial  chancellor  to  deprive  the  city  of 
penal  jurisdiction  and  to  threaten  it  with  other  se* 
vere  penalties. 

306  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

Frederick,  as  a  rule  weak,  showed  surprising 
firmness  on  this  occasion.  New  and  shameless 
charges  were  nevertheless  brought  by  the  clergy 
against  the  Jews.  In  Passau  they  were  accused  of 
having  bought  consecrated  wafers  from  a  Christian, 
and  profaned  them ;  whereupon  certain  marvels 
were  said  to  have  occurred.  For  this  the  bishop  of 
Passau  had  a  great  number  of  Jews  put  to  death, 
some  "mercifully"  by  the  sword,  others  at  the 
stake,  and  others  by  means  of  red-hot  pincers.  In 
memory  of  this  inhumanity  and  "to  the  glory  of 
God,"  a  new  church  was  built  near  the  scene  of  the 
atrocities.  A  Jew  and  a  Jewess  of  Ratisbon  were 
accused  of  complicity  in  this  crime,  and  thrown  into 
prison  with  the  others.  All  the  details  were  brought 
to  the  notice  of  the  emperor  in  order  to  rouse  his 
anger.  He,  however,  maintained  his  conviction  that 
the  Jews  of  Ratisbon  were  innocent,  and  issued  a 
new  order  to  the  effect  that  those  in  prison  on  the 
charge  of  profaning  the  host  were  neither  to  be 
tortured  nor  put  to  death,  but  to  be  treated  like 
other  prisoners.  In  vain  the  council  sent  deputy 
after  deputy  to  the  imperial  court.  Frederick 
roundly  declared,  "In  justice  and  honor  I  neither 
can  nor  will  permit  these  Jews  to  be  slain,  and  the 
men  of  Ratisbon  who  have  so  long  hardened  them- 
selves in  their  disobedience  shall  certainly  not  sit  in 
judgment  upon  them." 

Thus,  after  long  resistance,  the  council  was  com- 
pelled to  kiss  the  rod,  and  give  a  written  promise  to 
release  the  imprisoned  Jews,  and  not  to  drive  any 
out  of  the  city  on  account  of  this  trial.  Further, 
the  city  was  sentenced  to  pay  a  fine  of  8,000  gulden 
into  the  imperial  exchequer  and  to  find  bail  in  10,000 
gulden — which  latter  burden,  strangely  enough,  the 
Jews  had  to  bear.  An  appeal  to  the  pope  was  out 
of  the  question,  since  experience  had  taught  that 
"  the  papal  court  was  even  more  greedy  of  gold 
than  the  imperial." 


When  the  community  of  Ratisbon  was  informed 
of  this  conclusion  of  the  affair,  and  of  the  condi- 
tions under  which  it  could  gain  its  freedom — by 
paying  not  only  the  sum  imposed  upon  itself, 
but  also  the  fine  of  the  city  and  the  costs  of  the 
proceedings — it  refused.  The  delegates  said  that 
the  total  exceeded  the  possessions  of  the  Jews, 
as  they  had  been  deprived,  for  three  long  years, 
of  freedom  and  all  opportunity  of  earning  money. 
They  preferred  their  present  miserable  state  to 
becoming  beggars.  So  they  remained  two  years 
longer  in  durance,  partly  on  account  of  lack  of 
money,  and  partly  by  reason  of  the  excessive  bail 
demanded.  They  were  finally  set  at  liberty  on 
taking  an  oath  that  they  would  not  take  revenge, 
nor  convey  their  persons  or  their  goods  out  of  the 
city  of  Ratisbon. 

All  the  Jews  living  in  Suabia  were  expelled, 
doubtless  in  consequence  of  false  accusations  in 
connection  with  the  child-murder  of  Trent.  As  late 
as  in  the  eighteenth  century,  the  shameless  falsehood 
was  repeated,  and  in  many  parts  entailed  upon  the 
Jews  the  sacrifice  of  life  and  property. 



Jewish  Blood  in  the  Veins  of  the  Spanish  NobiUty — The  Marranos 
ding  to  Judaism  and  manifest  Unconquerable  Antipathy  to 
Christianity — Ferdinand  and  Isabella — The  Dominicans,  Alfonso 
de  Ojeda,  Diego  de  Merlo,  and  Pedro  de  Solis — The  Catechism 
of  the  Marranos — A  Polemical  Work  against  the  Cathohc 
Church  and  Despotism  gives  a  Powerful  Impulse  to  the  Inqui- 
sition— The  Tribunal  is  established  in  1480 — Miguel  Morillo  and 
Juan  de  San  Martin  are  the  first  Inquisitors — The  Inquisition  in 
Seville — The  "  Edict  of  Grace" — The  Procession  and  the  Auto- 
da-f6 — The  Numbers  of  the  Accused  and  Condemned — Pope 
Sixtus  IV  and  his  Vacillating  Policy  with  Regard  to  the  Inqui- 
sition — The  Inquisition  under  the  first  Inquisitor  General, 
Thomas  de  Torquemada;  its  Constitutions — The  Marranos  of 
Aragon — They  are  charged  with  the  Death  of  the  Inquisitor 
Arbues — Persecutions  and  Victims — Proceedings  against  two 
Bishops  Favorable  to  the  Jews,  De  Avila  and  De  Aranda. 

1474— 1483  C.E. 

A  Jewish  poet  called  Spain  the  "hell  of  the  Jews ;" 
and,  in  very  deed,  those  foul  fiends  in  monks' 
cowls,  the  inventors  of  the  Holy  Inquisition,  made 
that  lovely  land  an  Inferno.  Every  misery,  every 
mortal  pang,  conceived  only  by  the  most  extrava- 
gant imagination  of  poet;  every  horror  that  can 
thrill  the  heart  of  man  to  its  lowest  depths,  these 
monsters  in  the  garb  of  humility  brought  upon  the 
Jews  of  the  Hesperian  Peninsula. 

These  Calibans  also  said,  "  *  Burn  but  their  books  ;* 
for  therein  lies  their  power."  The  Dominicans 
wished  to  destroy  not  only  the  bodies,  but  the  very 
soul  and  spirit  of  the  Jews.  Yet  they  were  not 
able  to  quench  the  life  of  Judaism.  They  only  suc- 
ceeded in  transforming  the  Spanish  paradise  into 
one  vast  dungeon,  in  which  the  king  himself  was 
not  free.  The  Inquisition,  created  by  the  begging 
friars,  wounded  the  Jew  deeply,  yet  not  mortally. 


His  wounds  are  now  almost  healed ;  but  Spain 
suffers  still,  perhaps  beyond  hope  of  cure,  from 
the  wounds  dealt  by  the  Inquisition.  Ferdinand  the 
Catholic  and  Isabella  the  Bigot,  who,  through  the 
union  of  Aragon  and  Castile,  laid  the  foundation 
for  the  greatness  of  Spain,  prepared  the  way,  at  the 
same  time,  by  the  establishment  of  the  Inquisition, 
for  her  decay  and  final  ruin. 

The  new-Christians,  who  dwelt  by  hundreds  and 
thousands  throughout  the  kingdoms  of  Aragon  and 
Castile,  were  so  many  thorns  in  monkish  flesh.  Many 
of  them  held  high  offices  of  state,  and  by  means  of 
their  wealth  wielded  great  and  far-reaching  influence. 
They  were  also  related  to  many  of  the  old  nobility; 
indeed,  there  were  few  families  of  consequence 
who  had  not  Jewish  blood  in  their  veins.  They 
formed  a  third  part  of  the  townspeople,  and  were 
intelligent,  industrious,  and  peaceful  citizens.  These 
Marranos,  for  the  most  part,  had  preserved  their 
love  for  Judaism  and  their  race  in  the  depths  of  their 
hearts.  As  far  as  they  could,  they  observed  Jewish 
rites  and  customs,  either  from  piety  or  from  habit. 
Even  those  who,  upon  philosophical  grounds,  were 
indifferent  to  Judaism,  were  not  less  irreconcilably 
hostile  to  Christianity,  which  they  were  compelled 
to  confess  with  their  lips.  Although  they  did  not 
have  their  children  circumcised,  they  washed  the 
heads  of  the  infants  immediately  after  baptism. 
They  were,  therefore,  rightly  looked  upon  by  the 
orthodox  clergy  either  as  Judaizing  Christians,  or  as 
apostate  heretics.  They  took  no  count  of  the 
origin  of  their  conversion,  which  had  been  accom- 
plished with  fire  and  sword.  They  had  received  the 
sacrament  of  baptism,  and  this  condemned  them 
and  their  descendants  to  remain  in  the  Christian 
faith,  however  hateful  it  might  be  to  them.  Rational 
legislation  would  have  given  them  liberty  to  return 
to  Judaism,  and,  in  any  case,  to  emigrate,  in  order 
to  avoid  scandal.     But  the  spiritual  powers  were 


full  of  perversity.  That  which  demands  the  freest 
exercise  of  the  powers  of  the  soul  was  to  be  brought 
about  by  brute  force,  to  the  greater  glory  of  God ! 

During  the  lifetime  of  Don  Henry  IV  the  clerical 
members  of  the  cortes  of  Medina  del  Campo  had 
persistently  advanced  the  proposal  that  a  court  of 
Inquisition  be  instituted  to  bring  recusant  or  sus- 
pected Christians  to  trial,  and  inflict  severe  punish- 
ment with  confiscation  of  goods.  Unfortunately  for 
the  clericals,  the  king  was  by  no  means  zealous  for 
the  faith  or  fond  of  persecution ;  and  so  this  decision 
of  the  cortes,  like  many  others,  remained  a  dead 
letter.  The  Dominicans,  however,  promised  them- 
selves greater  results  under  the  new  sovereigns — 
Queen  Isabella,  whose  confessors  had  reduced  her 
to  spiritual  slavery,  and  Don  Ferdinand,  who,  by  no 
means  so  superstitiously  inclined,  was  quite  ready 
to  use  religion  as  the  cloak  of  his  avarice.  It  is  said 
that  the  confessor,  Thomas  de  Torquemada,  the  in- 
carnation of  the  hell-begotten  Holy  Inquisition,  had 
extorted  from  the  Infanta  Isabella  a  vow  that,  when 
she  came  to  the  throne,  she  would  devote  herself  to 
the  extirpation  of  heresy,  to  the  glory  of  God  and 
the  exaltation  of  the  Catholic  faith.  She  was  now 
queen;  " her  throne  was  established;  and  her  soul 
was  sufficiently  beclouded  to  believe  that  God  had 
raised  her  solely  to  cleanse  Spanish  Christianity 
from  the  taint  of  Judaism." 

The  prior  of  a  Dominican  monastery,  Alfonso  de 
Ojeda,  who  had  the  ear  of  the  royal  consorts,  made 
fearful  representations  to  them  as  to  the  offenses  of 
the  new-Christians  against  the  faith.  Aided  by  two 
others  of  like  mind,  he  strained  every  nerve  to  set 
the  Inquisition  in  motion  against  the  Marranos  ;  and 
the  papal  nuncio  in  Spain,  Nicolo  Franco,  supported 
the  proposition  of  the  monk  for  a  tribunal  to  call 
them  to  account  for  their  transgressions. 

Without  further  consideration  Don  Ferdinand, 
seeing  that  his  coffers   would   be  filled  with   the 

CH.  X.  SIXTUS   IV'S    BULL.  3II 

plunder  of  the  accused,  gave  his  assent  to  the 
scheme.  The  more  scrupulous  queen  hesitated, 
and  the  royal  pair  decided  to  appeal  to  the  pope  for 
advice.  The  two  Spanish  ambassadors  at  the  court 
of  Rome,  the  brothers  Francisco  and  Diego  de  San- 
tillana,  earnestly  pressed  the  pope  and  the  college 
of  cardinals  to  grant  the  request  of  their  sovereigns. 
Sixtus  IV,  from  whom  anything,  good  or  bad,  could 
be  obtained  for  gold,  immediately  grasped  the 
money-making  aspect  of  the  Holy  Inquisition.  In 
November,  1478,  he  issued  a  bull  empowering  the 
sovereigns  to  appoint  inquisitors  from  among  the 
clergy,  with  full  authority  to  sit  in  judgment  on  all 
heretics,  apostates,  and  their  patrons,  according  to 
the  laws  and  customs  of  the  ancient  Inquisition,  sen- 
tence them,  and — most  important  point  of  all— con- 
fiscate their  goods. 

Isabella,  who  had  been  somewhat  favorably  influ- 
enced in  behalf  of  the  new-Christians,  was  not 
inclined  to  adopt  rigorous  measures  to  begin  with. 
At  her  direction,  the  archbishop  of  Seville,  Cardinal 
Mendoza,  prepared  a  catechism  in  1478  for  the  use 
of  new-Christians,  and  issued  it  to  the  clergy  of  his 
diocese,  in  order  that  they  might  instruct  the  Mar- 
ranos  in  the  articles,  the  sacraments,  and  the  usages 
of  the  Christian  religion.  The  authors  of  this 
measure  displayed  strange  simplicity  in  believing 
that  the  baptized  Jews  would  allow  an  antipathy, 
which  every  day  found  new  incitement,  to  be  ap- 
peased by  the  dry  statements  of  a  catechism.  The 
Marranos  naturally  remained  in  what  the  church 
considered  their  blindness  ;  that  is  to  say,  in  the 
purity  of  their  monotheism  and  their  adherence  to 
their  ancestral  religion. 

It  happened  that  a  Jew  or  a  new-Christian 
grievously  offended  the  sovereigns  by  the  publica- 
tion of  a  small  work  in  which  he  exposed  at  once 
the  idolatrous  cult  of  the  church  and  the  despotic 
character  of  the  government.     Hereupon  the  queen 

312  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  X. 

became  more  and  more  inclined  to  assent  to  the 
proposals  for  the  establishment  of  the  bloody 
tribunal.  The  work  made  so  strong  an  impression 
that  the  queen's  father-confessor,  in  1480,  published 
a  refutation  by  royal  command.  The  attitude  of  the 
court  became  more  and  more  hostile  to  new- 
Christians,  and  when  the  commission  appointed  by 
the  sovereigns  to  inquire  into  the  improvement  or 
obstinacy  of  the  Marranos  reported  that  they  were 
irreclaimable,  it  was  authorized  to  frame  the  statute 
for  the  new  tribunal.  The  commission  was  com- 
posed of  the  fanatical  Dominican,  Alfonso  de  Ojeda, 
and  the  two  monks — one  in  mind  and  order- — Pedro 
de  Solis  and  Diego  de  Merlo. 

Had  demons  of  nethermost  hell  conspired  to  tor- 
ment innocent  men  to  the  last  verge  of  endurance 
and  to  make  their  lives  one  ceaseless  martyrdom, 
they  could  not  have  devised  more  perfect  means 
than  those  which  the  three  monks  employed  against 
their  victims. 

The  statute  was  ratified  by  the  sovereigns,  and 
the  tribunal  of  the  Holy  Inquisition  was  appointed 
on  September  17th,  1480.  It  was  composed  of  men 
well  fitted  to  carry  out  the  bloody  decree  :  the  Dom- 
inican Miguel  Morillo,  inquisitor  in  the  province  of 
Roussillon,  and  renowned  as  a  converter  of  heretics 
by  means  of  torture  ;  Juan  de  San  Martin  ;  an  as- 
sessor, the  abbot  Juan  Ruez,  and  a  procurator  fiscal, 
Juan  Lopez  del  Barco.  These  men  were  formally 
confirmed  by  Sixtus  IV  as  judges  in  matters  of  faith, 
and  of  heretics  and  apostates.  The  tribunal  was 
first  organized  for  the  city  of  Seville  and  its  neigh- 
borhood, as  this  district  stood  immediately  under 
royal  jurisdiction,  and,  therefore,  possessed  no  cortes, 
and  because  it  contained  a  great  many  Marranos. 
Three  weeks  later  the  sovereigns  issued  a  decree 
calling  upon  all  officials  to  render  the  inquisitors 
every  assistance  in  their  power. 

It  is  noteworthy  that  as  soon  as  the  creation  of 


the  tribunal  became  known,  the  populace  every- 
where looked  upon  it  with  displeasure,  as  though 
suspicious  that  it  might  be  caught  in  the  net  spread 
for  the  Marranos.  While  the  cortes  of  Medina  del 
Campo  proposed  the  establishment  of  a  court  for 
new-Christians,  the  great  popular  assembly  at 
Toledo  in  the  same  year — the  first  after  the  acces- 
sion of  Ferdinand  and  Isabella — maintained  abso- 
lute silence  on  the  question,  as  though  it  desired 
to  have  no  share  in  the  unholy  work.  The  mayor 
and  other  officials  of  Seville  proved  so  disinclined 
to  assist  the  inquisitors  that  it  was  necessary  to 
issue  a   second  royal   decree    on  December    27th, 

1480,  directing  them  to  do  so.  The  nobles,  allied 
with  the  converted  Jews  either  through  blood  or 
friendship,  stood  stoutly  by  them,  and  sought 
by  every  means  to  protect  them  against  the  new 

As  soon  as  the  new-Christians  of  Seville  and  the 
neighborhood  received  news  of  the  establishment  of 
the  Inquisition,  they  held  a  meeting  to  consider 
means  of  turning  aside  the  blow  aimed  at  them. 
Several  wealthy  and  respected  men  of  Seville,  Car- 
mona  and  Utrera,  among  them  Abulafia,  the  financial 
agent  of  the  royal  couple,  prepared  to  do  battle 
with  their  persecutors.  They  distributed  money  and 
weapons  among  the  people,  to  enable  them  to  de- 
fend themselves.  An  old  man  urged  the  conspir- 
ators to  armed  resistance  ;  but  the  conspiracy  was 
betrayed  by  the  daughter  of  one  of  its  members, 
and  all  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  tribunal.  Others, 
who  had  collected  their  possessions,  and  fled  to 
the  province  of  Medina-Sidonia  and  Cadiz,  under 
whose  governors  they  hoped  to  receive  protection 
against  the  threatened  persecution,  were  deceived, 
for  the  Inquisition  went  to  work  with  remorseless 
severity.  As  soon  as  it  had  taken  up  its  quarters 
in  the  convent  of  St.  Paul  at  Seville,  on  January  2d, 

1 48 1,  it  issued  an  edict  to  the  governor  of  Cadiz 

314  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

and  other  officials  to  deliver  up  the  Marranos  and 
distrain  their  goods.  Those  who  disobeyed  were 
threatened  not  only  with  excommunication,  but  also 
with  the  punishment  assigned,  as  sharers  of  their 
guilt,  to  all  who  showed  sympathy  to  heretics — con- 
fiscation of  goods  and  deprivation  of  office. 

The  Inquisition  inspired  so  much  terror  that  the 
nobility  lost  no  time  in  imprisoning  those  to  whom 
they  had  lately  promised  protection,  and  in  sending 
them  in  custody  to  Seville.  The  number  of  these 
prisoners  was  so  great  that  the  tribunal  was  soon 
obliged  to  seek  another  building  for  its  functions. 
It  selected  a  castle  in  Triana,  a  suburb  of  Seville. 
On  the  gate  of  this  house  of  blood  were  inscribed, 
in  mockery  of  the  Jews,  certain  verses  selected  from 
their  Scriptures  : — "Arise,  God,  judge  Thy  cause  ; " 
"  Catch  ye  foxes  for  us,"  which  plainly  showed  the 
utter  heartlessness  of  their  judges.  Fugitives  when 
caught  were  treated  as  convicted  heretics.  So  early 
as  the  fourth  day  after  the  installation  of  the 
tribunal,  it  held  its  first  sitting.  Six  Marranos  who 
had  either  avowed  their  old  religion  before  their 
judges,  or  made  horrible  confessions  on  the  rack, 
were  condemned  and  burnt  alive.  The  tale  of  vic- 
tims grew  to  such  proportions  that  the  city  authori- 
ties set  apart  a  special  place  as  a  permanent  execu- 
tion ground,  which  subsequently  became  infamous 
as  the  Quemadero,  or  place  of  burning.  Four  huge 
caricatures  of  prophets  distinguished  this  spot,  exist- 
ing to  the  present  day  to  the  shame  of  Spain  and 
Christianity.  For  three  hundred  years  the  smoke  of 
the  burnt-offering  of  innocence  ascended  to  heaven 
from  this  infernal  spot. 

With  that  mildness  of  mien  which  skillfully  covers 
the  wisdom  and  the  venom  of  the  serpent,  Miguel 
Morillo  and  his  coadjutors  gave  to  the  new-Chris- 
tians guilty  of  relapse  into  Judaism  a  certain  time 
in  which  to  declare  their  remorse.  Upon  doing  this 
they  would  receive  absolution,  and  be  permitted  to 


retain  their  property.  This  was  the  Edict  of  Grace  ; 
but  it  was  not  wanting  in  threats  for  those  who 
should  permit  the  time  of  respite  to  elapse,  and  be 
denounced  by  others  as  backsliders.  The  full  vigor 
of  the  canonical  laws  against  heresy  and  apostasy 
would  then  be  exercised  against  them.  The  credu- 
lous in  crowds  obeyed  the  summons.  Contritely 
they  appeared  before  the  tribunal,  lamented  the 
awful  guilt  of  their  lapse  into  Judaism,  and  awaited 
absolution  and  permission  to  live  in  peace.  But  now 
the  inquisitors  imposed  the  condition  that  they  de- 
clare by  name,  position,  residence  and  other  particu- 
lirs  all  persons  of  their  ac(|uaintance  whom  they 
knew  to  be  apostates.  This  declaration  they  were 
to  substantiate  on  oath.  In  the  name  of  God  they 
were  asked  to  become  accusers  and  betrayers — the 
friend  of  his  friend,  the  brother  of  his  brother,  and 
the  son  of  his  father.  Terror,  and  the  assurance 
that  the  betrayed  should  never  know  the  names  of 
their  betrayers,  loosed  the  tongues  of  the  weak- 
hearted,  and  the  tribunal  soon  had  a  long  list  of 
heretics  upon  whom  to  carry  out  its  bloody  work. 

Not  only  the  hunted  Marranos,  every  Spaniard 
was  called  upon  by  an  edict  of  the  inquisitors  to 
become  an  informer.  Under  threat  of  excommuni- 
cation every  one  was  bound  to  give,  within  three 
days,  a  list  of  acquaintances  guilty  of  Jewish  heresy. 
It  was  a  summons  to  the  most  hateful  vices  of  man- 
kind to  become  allies  of  the  court :  to  malice,  hatred 
and  revenge,  to  sate  themselves  by  treachery ;  to 
greed,  to  enrich  itself;  and  to  superstition,  to  gain 
salvation  by  betrayal. 

And  what  were  the  signs  of  this  heresy  and  apos- 
tasy ?  The  Inquisition  had  published  a  very  com- 
plete, practical  guide  on  the  subject,  so  that  each 
informer  might  find  good  grounds  for  his  denunci- 
ation. The  following  signs  of  heresy  were  set  forth : 
if  baptized  Jews  cherished  hopes  of  a  Messiah  ;  if 
they  held  Moses  to  be  as  efficacious  for  salvation  as 

3l6  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

Jesus;  if  they  kept  the  Sabbath  or  a  Jewish  feast; 
if  they  had  their  children  circumcised  ;  if  they  ob- 
served the  Jewish  dietary  laws  ;  if  they  wore  clean 
linen  or  better  garments  on  the  Sabbath,  laid  table- 
cloths, or  lit  no  fire  on  this  day,  or  if  they  went 
barefoot  on  the  Day  of  Atonement,  or  asked  par- 
don of  each  other.  If  a  father  laid  his  hands  in 
blessing  on  his  children  without  making  the  sign  of 
the  cross ;  if  one  said  his  prayers  with  face  turned 
to  the  wall,  or  with  motions  of  the  head ;  or  if  he 
uttered  a  benediction  (Baraha,  Beracha)  over  the 
wine-cup,  and  passed  it  to  those  seated  at  the  table 
with  him,  he  was  to  be  deemed  recalcitrant.  As  a 
matter  of  course,  neglect  of  the  usages  of  the  church 
was  the  strongest  ground  for  suspicion  and  accusa- 
tion. Again,  if  a  new-Christian  repeated  a  psalm 
without  adding  the  Gloria ;  or  if  he  ate  meat  on  fast- 
days  ;  or  if  a  Jewish  woman  did  not  go  to  church 
forty  days  after  her  lying-in  ;  or  if  parents  gave  their 
children  Jewish  names,  the  charge  of  heresy  was 
held  proved. 

Even  the  most  innocent  actions,  if  they  happened 
to  coincide  with  Jewish  usages,  were  regarded  as 
signs  of  aggravated  heresy.  If  anyone,  for  instance, 
on  the  Jewish  Feast  of  Tabernacles  accepted  gifts 
from  the  table  of  Jews,  or  sent  them ;  or  if  a 
new-born  child  was  bathed  in  water  in  which  gold 
coins  and  grains  of  corn  had  been  placed  ;  or  if  a 
dying  man  in  his  last  moments  turned  his  face  to 
the  wall — all  such  actions  were  held  to  be  signs  of 

By  such  means  unscrupulous  people  were  given 
ample  opportunity  for  denunciation,  and  the  tribunal 
was  enabled  to  accuse  of  heresy  the  most  orthodox 
proselytes  when  it  desired  to  destroy  their  influence 
or  confiscate  their  property.  Naturally  the  dungeons 
of  the  Inquisition  were  soon  filled  with  Jewish  here- 
tics. Fully  15,000  were  thrown  into  prison  at  the 
outset.     The  Christian  priests  of  Moloch   inaugu- 

CH.  X.  THE    HlvST   AUTO-DA-FE.  31/ 

rated  the  first  auto-da-fe,  on  January  6th,  1481,  with 
a  solemn  procession,  repeated  innumerable  times 
during  the  following  three  hundred  years.  The 
clergy  in  their  gorgeous  vestments  and  with  cruci- 
fixes; the  grandees  in  black  robes  with  their  ban- 
ners and  pennons;  the  unhappy  victims  in  the 
hideous  San  Benito,  short  and  clinging,  painted 
with  a  red  cross,  and  flames  and  figures  of  devils; 
the  accompanying  choir  of  a  vast  concourse — so 
the  executioners  with  proud  bearing  and  the  victims 
in  most  miserable  guise  marched  to  the  place  of 
torment.  Arrived  there  the  inquisitors  recited  their 
sentence  on  the  victims.  To  the  horror  of  the  scene 
was  added  the  ghastly  mockery  that  the  tribunal  did 
not  execute  the  sentence  of  death,  but  left  it  to  the 
secular  judge;  for  the  church,  though  steeped  to  the 
lips  in  blood,  was  supposed  not  to  desire  the 
death  of  the  sinner.  The  Jewish  heretics  were 
given  to  the  flames  forthwith,  or,  if  penitent,  they 
were  first  strangled.  In  the  first  auto-da-fe,  at  which 
the  bishop,  Alfonso  de  Ojeda,  preached  the  inaugu- 
ration sermon,  only  six  Judaizing  Christians  were 
burnt.  A  few  days  later  the  conspirators  of  Car- 
mona,  Seville,  and  other  towns,  and  three  of  the 
most  wealthy  and  respected  of  the  Marranos,  among 
whom  was  Diego  de  Suson,  the  possessor  of  ten 
millions,  and  Abulafia,  formerly  a  Talmudic  scholar 
and  a  rabbi,  were  burnt  to  death.  On  the  26th  of 
March  seventeen  victims  suffered  death  by  fire  on 
the  Quemadero.  In  the  following  month  a  yet 
greater  number  were  burnt ;  and  up  to  November 
of  the  same  year  298  burnt-offerings  to  Christ 
gasped  out  their  lives  in  flame  and  smoke  in  the 
single  district  of  Seville.  In  the  archbishopric  of 
Cadiz  no  less  than  2,000  Jewish  heretics  were  burnt 
alive  in  the  course  of  that  year,  most  of  them  being 
wealthy  or  well-to-do,  their  possessions,  of  course, 
going  to  the  royal  exchequer.  Not  even  death 
afforded  a  safeguard  against  the  fury  of  the  Holy 

3l8  HISTORY    OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

Office.  These  ghouls  of  reUgion  tore  from  their 
graves  the  corpses  of  proselytes  who  had  died  in 
heresy,  burnt  them,  confiscated  their  possessions  in 
the  hands  of  their  heirs,  and  condemned  the  latter 
to  obscurity  and  poverty  that  they  might  never 
J  aspire  to  any  honorable  office.  Here  was  a  splendid 
field  for  the  avarice  of  the  king.  When  it  was  im- 
possible to  convict  a  wealthy  heir,  it  was  only  neces- 
sary to  establish  proofs  of  a  relapse  to  Judaism 
against  his  dead  father,  and  then  the  property  fell 
partly  to  the  king,  partly  to  the  Holy  Inquisition ! 

Many  Marranos  saved  themselves  by  flight  from 
the  clutches  of  the  merciless  persecutors,  and  took 
refuge  in  the  neighboring  Moslem  kingdom  of 
Granada,  in  Portugal,  Africa,  Provence,  or  Italy. 
Those  who  reached  Rome  approached  the  papal 
court  with  bitter  complaints  about  the  savage  and 
arbitrary  proceedings  of  the  Inquisition  against 
themselves  and  their  companions  in  misery.  As 
the  complainants  did  not  come  with  empty  hands, 
their  cause  usually  obtained  a  ready  hearing.  On 
the  29th  of  January,  1482,  the  pope  addressed  a 
severe  letter  to  Ferdinand  and  Isabella,  censuring 
the  conduct  of  the  Inquisition  in  no  measured  terms. 
He  stated  that  he  had  been  assured  that  the  pro- 
ceedings of  the  tribunal  were  contrary  to  all  forms 
of  justice,  that  many  were  unjustly  imprisoned,  and 
subjected  to  fearful  tortures.  Innocent  people  had 
been  denounced  as  heretics,  and  their  property 
taken  from  their  heirs.  In  this  letter  the  pope  ad 
mitted  that  he  had  issued  the  bull  for  the  institu- 
tion of  the  Inquisition  without  due  consideration ! 

Sixtus  further  stated  that,  in  strict  justice,  he 
ought  to  depose  the  inquisitors,  De  Morillo  and  San 
Martin  ;  but  out  of  consideration  for  their  majesties 
he  would  allow  them  to  remain  in  possession  of 
their  offices,  only  so  long,  however,  as  no  further 
complaints  were  made  against  them.  Should  pro- 
tests again  be  raised  he  would  restore  the  inquisi- 



torial  office  to  the  bishops,  to  whom  it  properly  be- 
longed. The  pope  refused  the  request  of  Don 
Ferdinand  to  institute  in  the  other  provinces  of  the 
united  kingdom  extraordinary  tribunals  for  the  trial 
of  heretics. 

But  Don  Ferdinand  also  knew  how  to  apply  the 
golden  key  to  the  papal  cabinet,  and  obtained  a  bull 
sanctioning  the  establishment  of  the  Inquisition  in 
the  provinces  of  Aragon.  In  this  bull,  dated  Feb- 
ruary nth,  1482,  Sixtus  appointed  six  monks  and 
clerics  as  chief  inquisitors,  among  them  Thomas  de 
Torquemada,  general  of  the  Dominicans  of  Avilo, 
a  monk  already  infamous  for  his  bloodthirsty  fanati- 
cism. In  another  letter,  of  the  17th  of  April,  he 
invested  these  men  with  discretionary  powers,  in 
virtue  of  which  they  were  able  to  dispense  with  cer- 
tain forms  of  common  law,  the  hearing  of  witnesses 
and  the  admission  of  pleaders  for  the  defense. 
Thus  were  fresh  victims  brought  to  the  stake. 

In  the  kingdom  of  Aragon,  however,  where  the 
nobility  and  the  middle  class  had  a  weighty  voice  in 
public  matters,  the  condemnation  of  Jewish  heretics 
without  formal  trial  raised  such  formidable  opposi- 
tion that  Cardinal  Borgia,  afterwards  the  infamous 
Alexander  VI,  and  the  king  himself,  petitioned 
the  pope  for  a  modification  of  the  conditions  gover- 
ning the  practice  of  the  tribunal.  In  a  letter  of 
the  loth  of  October,  Sixtus  excused  himself  from 
making  any  radical  changes  in  consequence  of  the 
absence  of  the  cardinals,  who  had  fled  from  Rome 
in  mortal  fear  of  the  plague.  But  he  abrogated  the 
conditions  which  too  flagrantly  violated  the  princi- 
ples of  common  law  ;  that  is  to  say,  he  ordered  that 
accuser  and  witnesses  should  be  confronted  with  the 
accused,  and  that  the  process  should  be  conducted 
in  public. 

The  Inquisition  also  met  with  great  opposition  in 
Sicily,  an  appanage  of  the  kingdom  of  Aragon.  The 
people  and  even  the  authorities  took  the  part  of  the 

320  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

new- Christians,  and  shielded  them  from  the  perse- 
cution of  their  bloodthirsty  judges.  Christians 
themselves  openly  charged  that  the  victims  were  not 
,  executed  out  of  zeal  for  the  faith,  but  from  insatia- 
^  ble  greed  which  sought  ceaseless  confiscations.  The 
bigoted  Isabella  was  sorely  troubled  at  having  her 
pious  desire  to  devote  the  proselytes  to  death  thus 
evilly  represented,  and  even  the  pope  behaved  as 
though  it  wounded  him  to  the  heart.     (February, 


Sixtus  IV  had  the  greatest  interest  in  maintaining 
friendly  relations  with  the  Spanish  court,  and,  there- 
fore, made  every  concession  with  regard  to  the  In- 
quisition. As  it  often  happened  that  Christian 
proselytes  condemned  by  the  tribunal,  who  had  suc- 
ceeded in  escaping  to  Rome,  purchased  absolution 
from  the  papal  throne,  with  the  infliction  of  only  a 
light,  private  penance,  the  sovereigns  saw  that  their 
efforts  to  purge  the  Christian  faith  by  the  extermi- 
nation of  Jewish  proselytes,  especially  by  the  con- 
fiscation of  their  goods,  were  most  unpleasantly 
thwarted.  The  court,  therefore,  insisted  that  the 
pope  appoint  a  judge  of  appeals  in  Spain  itself,  so 
that  the  rulings  of  the  Inquisition  might  not  be  re- 
versed in  foreign  countries,  where  all  kinds  of  un- 
favorable influences  might  be  brought  to  bear.  The 
pope  agreed  to  this  proposition,  and  appointed 
Inigo  Manrique  chief  judge  of  appeals  in  cases  in 
which  the  condemned  moved  for  a  revision  of  their 
trial.  This  measure  was,  however,  of  very  doubtful 
benefit  to  the  unfortunate  culprits,  for  upon  what 
ground  could  they  base  their  appeal  when  the  trial 
\  had  been  conducted  in  secret,  and  neither  accuser 
'  nor  witnesses  were  known  to  them?  It  is  altogether 
likely,  too,  that  the  tribunal  did  not  leave  them  very 
much  time  to  institute  proceedings  for  the  revision 
of  the  verdict.  Between  the  passing  of  the  sen- 
tence and  the  last  act  of  the  auto-da-fe  only  a  very 
short  interval  elapsed. 


Another  measure  of  the  Spanish  court,  calculated 
to  deprive  the  accused  of  the  last  hope  of  acquittal, 
was  approved  by  the  pope.  Baptized  Jews,  or  new- 
Christians  descended  from  them,  frequently  held 
bishoprics,  and  were  naturally  favorably  inclined  to 
their  unfortunate  and  persecuted  brethren  in  race. 
At  the  request  of  the  Spanish  court,  the  pope  issued 
a  bull  decreeing  that  no  bishop,  vicar,  or  member 
of  the  upper  clergy  descended  from  a  Jewish  family, 
whether  paternally  or  maternally,  should  sit  as  a 
judge  in  any  court  for  the  trial  of  heretics.  From 
this  prohibition  there  was  only  a  step  to  the  condem- 
nation of  clergy  of  Jewish  blood  to  the  stake.  Both 
his  own  frame  of  mind  and  his  political  position  now 
inclined  the  pope  to  encourage  the  sovereigns  in  the 
prosecution  of  their  bloody  work.  He  reminded 
them  that  Jesus  had  established  his  kingdom  on  earth 
solely  by  the  extirpation  of  idolatry  and  the  exter- 
mination of  idolators,  and  he  pointed  to  the  recent 
victories  which  the  Spaniards  had  gained  over  the 
Moslems  in  Granada  as  the  reward  of  heaven  for 
their  efforts  towards  the  purification  of  the  faith — 
that  is  to  say,  for  the  burning  of  new-Christians  and 
the  confiscation  of  their  goods. 

Had  his  Holiness,  Sixtus  IV,  not  been  infamous 
as  a  monster  of  depravity,  sensuality  and  unscru- 
pulousness,  who  appointed  boys  that  he  had  him- 
self abused  to  bishoprics  and  the  cardinal  dig- 
nity, and  who  bestowed  no  clerical  office  without 
payment — as  his  contemporary,  Infessura,  the  chan- 
cellor of  Rome,  has  recorded — his  conduct  with 
regard  to  the  Holy  Inquisition  would  have  been  suf- 
ficient to  brand  him  with  immortal  infamy.  Within 
a  short  period  he  published  the  most  contradictory 
decisions,  and  did  not  take  the  trouble  to  veil  his  in- 
consistency with  the  most  flimsy  pretense.  Scarcely 
had  he  proclaimed  the  utmost  rigors  against  Juda- 
izing  heretics,  and  appointed  a  tribunal  of  appeals, 
than  he  partly  abrogated  these  bulls,  and  issued  an* 

322  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

Other  prescribing  milder  proceedings  to  the  Inquisi- 
tion, only  to  alter  this  policy  in  its  turn. 

The  hated  Marranos,  among  them  the  high-spir- 
ited Juan  de  Seville,  had  exerted  themselves  to  pro- 
cure from  the  papal  court  a  decree  to  the  effect  that 
those  who  had  undergone  private  penance  in  Rome 
should  not  be  submitted  to  the  oppression  and  per- 
secution of  the  avaricious  king  and  his  bloodthirsty 
inquisitors,  but  should  be  regarded  and  treated  as 
orthodox  Christians.  At  first  the  pope  consented, 
and  issued  a  bull  on  August  2d,  1483,  "to  be  held 
in  eternal  remembrance  and  as  guide  for  the 
future,"  in  which  he  especially  directed  that  rigor 
be  tempered  with  mercy  in  dealing  with  the  new- 
Christians,  seeing  that  the  severity  of  the  Inquisition 
had  overstepped  the  bounds  of  justice.  The  bull 
enacted  that  all  new-Christian  who  had  confessed 
their  remorse  to  the  confessor-general  in  Rome,  and 
had  been  assigned  a  penance,  should  not  be  pur- 
sued by  the  Inquisition,  and  should  have  their  trials 
suppressed.  It  exhorted  the  king  and  queen,  "  by 
the  bowels  of  Jesus  Christ,"  to  remember  that  in 
mercy  and  kindness  alone  may  man  resemble  God, 
and  that,  therefore,  they  might  in  this  follow  in  the 
steps  of  Jesus,  whose  peculiar  attribute  it  was  to 
show  mercy  and  to  pardon.  The  pope  permitted 
this  bull  to  be  copied  indefinitely,  each  copy  to  have 
the  authority  of  the  original,  in  order  that  the  papal 
attitude  with  regard  to  new-Christians  might  be 
made  universally  known.  Sixtus  concluded  with  the 
statement  that  he  issued  this  bull  entirely  of  his  own 
motion,  not  in  obedience  to  external  influence,  al- 
though it  was  well  known  in  high  circles  that  it  had 
been  bought  with  new-Christian  gold.  The  sover- 
eigns, however,  would  have  nothing  to  do  with 
mercy  or  forbearance ;  they  desired  the  death  of 
the  culprits  and  the  possession  of  their  property. 
Nor  was  the  pope  really  inclined  to  mild  measures. 
A  few  days  later,  on  August  13th,  he  recalled  this 


bull,  excusing  himself  to  the  king  for  its  tenor,  and 
said  that  it  had  been  issued  in  too  great  haste.  Such 
was  the  consistency  and  infallibility  of  his  Holiness, 
Pope  Sixtus  IV ! 

In  vain  Don  Juan  de  Seville,  who  had  procured 
the  promulgation  of  the  favorable  bull,  endeavored 
to  circulate  it.  He  failed  to  find  any  clerical  official 
in  Spain  to  copy  and  confirm  it.  He,  therefore,  ap- 
plied to  the  Portuguese  archbishop  of  Evora,  who 
caused  it  to  be  copied  by  his  notary  and  recognized 
as  authentic.  The  Inquisition,  however,  was  ex- 
tremely suspicious  of  those  who  had  sought  and 
obtained  indulgences  at  Rome,  and  Don  Juan  de 
Seville  and  his  companions  fell  at  length  into  its 
hands,  and  were  severely  punished 

Terrible  though  the  tribunal  had  hitherto  been  ; 
though  many  thousands  of  compulsory  proselytes 
and  their  descendants,  during  its  three  snort  years 
of  existence,  had  been  cast  into  the  flames,  left  to 
rot  in  its  dungeons,  driven  from  their  country,  or  re- 
duced to  beggary,  it  was  child's  play  compared  with 
what  it  became  when  placed  under  the  control  of  a 
priest  whose  heart  was  closed  to  every  sentiment  of 
mercy,  whose  lips  breathed  only  death  and  destruc- 
tion, and  who  united  the  savagery  of  the  hyena  with 
the  venom  of  the  snake.  Until  now  the  Inquisition 
had  been  confined  to  southern  Spain,  to  the  districts 
of  Seville  and  Cadiz,  and  the  Christian  province  of 
Andalusia.  In  the  remaining  provinces  of  Spain  it 
had  hitherto  been  unable  to  get  a  footing,  in  conse- 
quence of  the  resistance  offered  to  its  introduction  J 
by  the  cortes.  Through  the  opposition  of  the  people, 
the  wicked  will  of  the  inquisitors  Morillo  and  Juan 
de  San  Martin  had  remained  inoperative  ;  their  up- 
lifted arm  was  paralyzed  by  innumerable  difficulties. 
If  here  and  there  a  few  courts  were  heid  in  the  re- 
maining districts  of  Spain,  they  were  isolated  and 
without  organization,  and  were  thus  unable  to  furnish 
each  other  with  victims.     King  Ferdinand  thus  had 

3^4  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

not  yet  collected  treasure  enough,  nor  had  the  pious 
Isabella  beheld  a  sufficient  number  of  new-Christians 
writhing  in  the  flames.  For  their  joint  satisfaction 
they  now  persuaded  the  pope  to  appoint  an  inquisi- 
tor-general who  should  constitute,  direct,  and  super- 
vise the  several  courts,  that  none  of  the  suspected 
Marranos  might  avoid  their  fate,  and  that  the  oppo- 
sition of  the  populace  might  be  broken  down  by 
every  species  of  terrorism.     In  cold  blood,  and  with 

N  little  interest  even  for  the  faith  itself,  the  pope  as- 
sented; and  in  May,  1483,  appointed  the  Dominican, 
Thomas  de  Torquemada,  hitherto  prior  of  a  mon- 
astery in  Segovia,  inquisitor-general  of  Spain.  There 
are  certain  men  who  are  the  embodiment  of  good  or 
evil  sentiments,  opinions  and  principles,  and  fully 
illustrate  their  extremest  consequences.  Torque- 
mada was  the  incarnation  of  the  Holy  Inquisition 

^  with  all  its  devilish  malice,  its  heartless  severity,  its 
bloodthirsty  ferocity. 

"  Out  of  Rome  hath  arisen  a  savage  monster  of 
such  wondrous  shape  and  hideous  appearance  that 
at  the  sound  of  its  name  all  Europe  trembles.  Its 
carcass  is  of  iron,  tempered  in  deadly  poison,  and 
covered  with  scales  of  impenetrable  steel.  A  thou- 
sand venom-dropping  wings  support  it  when  it 
hovers  over  the  terrified  earth.  Its  nature  is  that 
of  the  ravening  lion  and  the  snake  of  the  African 
desert.  Its  bite  is  more  terrible  than  that  of  the 
hugest  monster.  The  sound  of  its  voice  slays  more 
speedily  than  the  deadly  glance  of  the  basilisk. 
From  its  eyes  and  mouth  stream  fire  and  ceaseless 
lightnings.  It  feeds  on  human  bodies,  and  its  drink 
is  human  tears  and  blood.  It  excels  the  eagle  in 
the  speed  of  its  flight,  and  where  it  broods  its  black 
shadow  spreads  the  gloom  of  night.  Though  the 
sun  shine  never  so  clearly,  the  darkness  of  Egypt 
follows  in  its  track  Wheresoever  it  flies,  every 
green  meadow  that  it  touches,  every  fruitful  tree  on 
which  it  sets  foot,  withers  and  dies,     With  its  de- 

CH.   X.  TRIBUNALS    IN   THE   GREAT   TOWNS.  325 

stroying  fangs  it  roots  up  every  herb  that  grows, 
and  with  the  poison  of  its  breath  it  blasts  the 
circle  in  which  it  moves  to  a  desert  like  that  of 
Syria,  where  no  green  thing  grows,  no  grass-blade 

Thus  did  a  Jewish  poet,  Samuel  Usque,  himself 
singed  by  its  flames,  depict  the  Inquisition. 

The  inscription  which  the  poet  Dante  placed  upon 
the  portal  of  Hell — 

"All  hope  abandon,  ye  who  enter  here ! " 

would  have  been  even  more  suitable  to  the  dungeons 
of  the  Holy  Inquisition,  which  the  cruel  energy  of 
Torquemada  now  established  in  nearly  all  the  great 
towns  of  Spain.  He  at  once  instituted  three  new 
tribunals  in  Cordova,  Jaen  and  Villareal  (Ciudad- 
Real),  and,  later  on,  one  in  Toledo,  the  capital  of 
southern  Spain.  The  offices  of  the  Inquisition  were 
entirely  filled  by  him  with  hypocritical  and  fanatical 
Dominicans,  whom  he  made  the  tools  of  his  will,  so 
that  they  worked  like  an  organism  with  a  single 
head,  ready  at  his  word  to  perpetrate  the  most  hid- 
eous barbarities  with  a  composure  that  cannibals 
might  have  envied.  In  those  days  Spain  was  filled 
with  the  putrefaction  of  the  dungeon,  the  stench  of 
corpses,  and  the  crackling  of  the  flames  in  which 
were  burning  innocent  Jews,  forced  into  a  faith  the 
falsity  of  which  was  demonstrated  by  every  action 
of  the  servants  of  the  church.  A  wail  of  misery 
piercing  bone  and  marrow  went  through  that  lovely 
land  ;  but  their  Catholic  majesties  paralyzed  the 
arm  of  every  man  prompted  by  mercy  to  put  a  stop 
to  the  butchery.  At  the  court  itself  there  sat  a  com- 
mission on  the  affairs  of  Jewish  Christians,  of  which 
the  inquisitor-general  held  the  presidency. 

Don  Ferdinand  wished  to  perpetuate  the  jurisdic- 
tion of  the  Inquisition  in  his  hereditary  lands,  in 
order  to  fill  his  purse  with  the  spoils  of  the  new- 
Christians  setded  there.     During  the  assembly  of 

326  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

the  cortes  at  Tarazona,  in  April,  1484,  he  laid  his 
plans  before  his  privy  council,  and  canceled  the 
ancient  privileges  of  the  country,  which  had  existed 
from  the  earliest  times,  and  which  provided  that  no 
native  of  Aragon,  whatever  his  crime,  should  suffer 
confiscation  of  his  property.  The  inquisitor-general 
accordingly  appointed  for  the  archbishopric  of  Sara- 
gossa  two  inquisitors  who  rivaled  himself  in  blood- 
thirsty fanaticism,  the  canon,  Pedro  Arbues  de  Epila, 
and  the  Dominican,  Gaspard  Juglar.  A  royal  or- 
dinance was  now  issued  to  all  officials  and  nobles, 
directing  them  to  give  every  assistance  to  the  in- 
quisitors. The  grand  justiciary  of  Aragon,  though 
of  Jewish  origin,  and  other  dignitaries,  were  obliged 
to  take  an  oath  that  they  would  spare  no  efforts  to 
exterminate  the  culprits  condemned  by  the  tribunal. 

Torquemada,  the  very  soul  of  the  Inquisition,  now 
decided  to  publish  a  code  for  the  guidance  of  the 
judges,  so  that  the  net  might  be  drawn  as  closely  as 
possible  round  his  victims.  The  whole  body  of  in- 
quisitors was  assembled  to  consider  this  design,  and, 
under  the  title  of  "Constitutions,"  issued,  on  October 
29th,  1484,  a  code  of  laws,  calculated  to  inspire  the 
utmost  horror  had  no  more  been  done  than  commit 
them  to  paper.  It  has  been  asserted  that  the  monkish 
inquisitors  merely  copied  the  anti-Jewish  enactments 
of  the  councils  under  the  Visigothic  kings.  It  is  true 
that  the  decrees  of  Receswinth  threatened  with  death, 
by  fire  or  stoning,  all  new-Christians  convicted  of 
adherence  to  Jewish  customs.  The  comparison  is, 
nevertheless,  incorrect.  For  not  the  enactments 
against  heresy,  but  their  enforcement,  distinguishes 
the  "Constitutions"  of  the  Inquisition  as  the  most 
hideous  ever  fashioned  by  human  wickedness.  It 
was  as  though  the  most  malicious  demons  had  taken 
counsel  to  discover  how  they  might  bring  innocent 
human  beings  to  destruction. 

One  decree  ordained  a  respite  of  thirty  days  for 
those  who  of  their  own  free  will  would  tender  con- 

CH.  X.  "  CONSTITUTIONS."  32/ 

fession  of  their  relapse  to  Judaism.  These  were  to 
be  spared  all  punishment  and  confiscation  of  goods 
with  the  exception  of  a  moderate  fine.  They  were, 
however,  compelled  to  put  their  confession  into 
writing,  to  give  exact  answers  to  all  questions  put 
to  them,  and  especially  to  betray  their  fellow-offend- 
ers, and  even  those  whom  they  only  suspected  of 
Judaizing  tendencies.  Those  who  confessed  after 
the  expiration  of  the  time  of  respite  were  to  lose  all 
their  property,  even  that  which  they  had  possessed 
at  the  time  of  their  falling  away  from  Christianity, 
and  though  it  had  passed  into  other  hands.  Only 
new-Christians  under  twenty  years  old  were  ex- 
empted from  loss  of  property  in  the  event  of  later 
confessions ;  but  they  were  compelled  to  bear  a 
mark  of  infamy  composed  of  flaming  crosses,  the 
San  Benito,  upon  their  clothing,  and  to  take  part  in 
the  processions  and  attend  high  mass  in  this  guise. 
Those  whose  remorse  awakened  after  the  appointed 
day  were  indeed  to  receive  indulgence,  but  they 
were  to  remain  branded  for  life.  Neither  they  nor 
their  descendants  were  ever  to  hold  any  public  office, 
nor  to  wear  any  garment  embroidered  with  gold, 
silver  or  pearls,  or  made  of  silk  or  fine  wool,  and 
they  were  condemned  to  bear  the  "  fiery  cross  "  for 
ever.  Should  the  inquisitors  discover  that  the  con- 
fession of  a  penitent  was  insincere,  it  was  their  duty 
to  deny  him  absolution,  to  treat  him  as  a  recalcitrant, 
and  to  consign  him  to  the  flames.  If  a  penitent 
made  only  a  partial  confession  of  his  sins,  he,  too, 
was  condemned  to  death.  The  evidence  against  a 
Judaizing  Christian  might,  when  not  otherwise  con- 
venient, be  taken  through  other  persons.  It  was 
not  necessary  to  place  this  testimony  before  the 
accused  in  full  detail,  but  merely  as  an  abstract.  If, 
in  spite  of  the  evidence  laid  before  him,  he  main- 
tained that  he  had  never  relapsed  into  Judaism,  he 
was  condemned  to  the  flames  as  impenitent.  Incon- 
clusive proofs  of  relapse  brought  against  a  Marrano 

328  HISTORY   OP   THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

Stretched  him  upon  the  rack  ;  in  case  he  confessed 
under  torture,  he  was  submitted  to  a  second  trial. 
If  he  then  adhered  to  what  he  had  confessed  under 
torture  he  was  condemned  ;  if  he  denied  it,  he 
underwent  the  torture  again.  In  those  cases  in 
which  an  accused  person  failed  to  answer  to  the 
summons  issued  against  him,  he  was  condemned  as 
a  contumacious  heretic,  i.  e.,  his  property  was  con- 

In  the  face  of  such  proceedings — the  parody  of  a 
trial — and  the  pre-determination  on  the  part  of  the 
judge  to  consider  the  accused  guilty,  how  was  it 
possible  for  any  Marrano  to  prove  his  innocence  ? 
The  dungeon  and  the  rack  frequently  made  the 
accused  so  indifferent  to  their  fate  and  so  weary  of 
life  that  they  made  confessions  as  to  themselves, 
their  friends  and  even  their  nearest  relatives  which 
appeared  to  vindicate  the  necessity  for  the  Inqui- 
sition. The  trial  of  every  new-Christian  involved 
others  in  apparent  guilt,  and  brought  new  exami- 
nations and  new  accusations  in  its  train,  thus  furnish- 
ing an  ever-increasing  number  of  victims  to  the 
Holy  Office. 

The  towns  of  the  kingdoms  of  Aragon  and 
Valencia  had  from  the  first  manifested  the  greatest 
displeasure  at  the  introduction  of  the  Inquisition. 
Up  to  this  period  they  had  been  less  despotically 
governed  than  Castile,  and  were  exceedingly  jealous 
of  their  freedom.  Above  everything  the  Aragonese 
valued,  as  the  apple  of  their  eye,  the  privilege  which 
forbade  the  confiscation  of  goods  even  on  account 
of  the  gravest  offenses.  Now  the  officers  of  the 
Inquisition  were  to  be  invested  with  unlimited  power 
over  life  and  property.  The  new-Christians,  who 
held  high  offices  and  influential  positions  in  Aragon, 
were  naturally  eager  to  foment  and  increase  the  dis- 
content. In  Teruel  and  Valencia,  in  1485,  disas- 
trous popular  risings  broke  out  against  the  Inquisi- 
tion, and  were  quelled  only  after  great  bloodshed. 


The  Marranos  and  those  of  Jewish  descent  did  not, 
however,  surrender  their  project  of  paralyzing  the 
Inquisition  in  Aragon.  Some  of  the  highest  digni- 
taries of  state  were  numbered  among  them  ;  as,  for 
example,  Luis  Gonzalez,  royal  secretary  of  state  for 
Aragon ;  Alfonso  de  Caballeria,  the  vice-chancellor; 
his  brother,  the  king's  major-domo;  Philip  Clemente, 
chief  notary ;  and  such  high  hidalgos  as  the  Counts 
of  Aranda,  together  with  many  knights,  among 
whom  were  the  valiant  Juan  de  Abadia,  whose  sister 
was  burnt  for  heresy,  and  Juan  Perez  Sanchez, 
whose  brothers  were  at  court. 

As  soon  as  the  first  victims  fell  under  the  Inqui- 
sition in  Saragossa,  influential  new-Christians 
brought  pressure  to  bear  upon  the  cortes  to  induce 
them  to  protest,  both  to  the  king  and  to  the  pope, 
against  the  introduction  of  the  tribunal  into  Aragon. 
Commissioners  were  sent  to  the  royal  and  papal 
courts  to  effect  in  person  the  repeal  of  the  ordi- 
nances. They  expected  but  little  trouble  in  Rome, 
for  there  everything  was  to  be  had  for  money.  With 
the  king  it  seemed  to  be  a  matter  of  much  greater 
difficulty.  Ferdinand  remained  obstinately  fixed  in 
the  resolution  to  exterminate  the  Jewish  Christians 
by  means  of  the  Inquisition,  and  to  acquire  their 
property.  When  the  commissioners  sent  news  to 
their  friends  in  Aragon  of  the  failure  of  their  efforts, 
Perez  Sanchez  conceived  a  plot  to  remove  Pedro 
Arbues,  chief  inquisitor  for  Aragon,  in  order  to 
cripple  the  activity  of  the  Inquisition  by  terrorism, 
and  to  force  the  king  to  give  way.  He  imparted 
his  project  to  his  friends,  and  many  bound  them- 
selves to  stand  by  him.  In  order  to  win  over  the 
entire  body  of  new- Christians,  and  to  induce  them 
to  stand  firmly  together,  the  leaders  of  the  conspir- 
acy laid  them  under  contribution  for  the  expenses 
of  carrying  out  the  project.  A  hidalgo,  Blasco  de 
Alagon,  collected  the  money,  and  Juan  de  Abadia 
undertook  to  hire  the  assassins,  and  to  see  that  the 

330  HISTORY   OF    THE   JEWS.  CH.  X 

death  of  Arbues  was  achieved.  This  conspiracy 
was  joined  by  many  distinguished  persons  of  Jew- 
ish descent  in  Saragossa,  Tarazona,  Calatayud, 
Huesca  and  Barbastro. 

Juan  de  Abadia  procured  two  trustworthy  men, 
Juan  de  Esperaindo  and  Vidal  de  Uranso,  with  four 
assistants,  to  accompHsh  the  death  of  the  inquisitor 
Arbues.  The  intended  victim  appears  to  have  sus- 
pected the  plot,  for  he  protected  his  body  with  a 
shirt  of  mail  and  his  head  with  a  species  of  steel 
cap.  Before  daybreak  on  the  15th  of  September, 
1485,  as  he  was  entering  the  church  with  a  lantern 
to  hear  early  mass,  the  conspirators  followed  him. 
As  soon  as  he  had  fallen  on  ihis  knees,  Esperaindo 
struck  him  on  the  arm  with  his  sword,  while  Vidal 
wounded  him  in  the  neck.  He  was  borne  out  of 
the  church  bathed  in  blood,  and  died  two  days 
later.  The  conspirators  took  instant  flight.  As 
soon  as  the  news  of  the  attack  on  the  chief  inqui- 
sitor spread  in  Saragossa  it  produced  a  violent 
reaction.  The  orthodox  Christians  assembled  in 
crowds  crying  in  tones  of  fury:  "To  the  flames 
with  the  Jew-Christians!  They  have  murdered  the 
chief  inquisitor  !  "  The  Marranos  would  have  been 
massacred  in  a  body  there  and  then,  had  not  the 
royal  bastard,  the  youthful  Archbishop  Alfonso  of 
Aragon,  mounted  his  horse,  and  restrained  the 
crowd  by  an  armed  force,  promising  them  the  fullest 
satisfaction  by  the  severe  punishment  of  the  guilty 
persons  and  their  accomplices. 

King  Ferdinand  made  good  use  of  the  unfor- 
tunate conspiracy  in  the  establishment  of  the  In- 
quisition in  Aragon.  The  sovereigns  carried  public 
mourning  for  the  murdered  Arbues  to  the  verge  of 
idolatry.  A  statue  was  consecrated  to  his  memor).', 
in  honor  of  his  services  to  religion  and  the  exter- 
mination of  Jewish  heretics.  The  Dominicans  were 
by  no  means  displeased  at  the  death  of  the  chief 
inquisitor.     They  were,  in  fact,  in  need  of  a  martyr 


to  enable  them  to  surround  their  tribunal  of  blood 
with  a  halo  of  glory.  They  used  every  effort  to 
raise  Pedro  Arbues  to  the  rank  of  saint  or  Christian 
demi-god.  It  was  not  long  before  they  fabricated 
a  divine  communication  from  the  sainted  heretic- 
slayer,  in  which  he  exhorted  all  the  world  to  support 
and  carry  forward  the  Holy  Inquisition,  and  soothed 
the  scruples  of  the  members  of  the  tribunal,  on 
account  of  the  enormous  number  of  men  they  had 
consigned  to  the  flames,  by  assuring  them  that  the 
most  honorable  places  in  heaven  awaited  them  as 
the  reward  of  their  pious  efforts. 

The  unsuccessful  conspiracy  of  the  Marranos  in 
Saragossa  afforded  a  vast  number  of  fresh  victims 
to  the  Christian  Moloch.  A  few  of  the  conspirators 
made  full  confession,  and  so  the  inquisitors  soon 
had  a  complete  list  of  the  culprits.  These  were 
pursued  with  redoubled  vigor  as  Judaizing  heretics 
and  enemies  of  the  Holy  Office.  Those  who  had 
borne  a  leading  part  in  the  conspiracy,  as  soon  as 
they  fell  into  the  hands  of  their  judges,  were  dragged 
through  the  streets  of  Saragossa,  their  hands  were 
hewn  off,  and  they  were  then  hanged.  Juan  de 
Abadia  escaped  this  dishonorable  fate  by  killing 
himself  in  prison.  More  than  two  hundred  Jewish 
Christians  were  burnt  as  accomplices,  a  yet  greater 
number  were  condemned  to  perpetual  imprison- 
ment, among  them  a  high  dignitary  of  the  Metro- 
politan Church  of  Saragossa,  and  not  a  few  women 
of  gentle  birth.  Francisco  de  Sante-Fe  also  died  at 
the  stake.  Even  those  who  had  given  shelter  to 
the  conspirators  for  a  brief  period  during  their  flight 
were  compelled  to  attend  an  auto-da-fe  as  penitents, 
and  lost  their  civil  rights.  How  far  the  inhumanity 
of  the  persecutors  went  is  especially  shown  by  one 
of  the  punishments  inflicted.  A  conspirator,  Gas- 
pard  de  Santa  Cruz,  had  been  successful  in  making 
his  escape  to  Toulouse,  and  there  died  in  peace. 
The  Inquisition,  not  content  with  burning  him  in 

332  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  X. 

effigy,  laid  hands  upon  his  son  as  an  accomplice  in 
his  father's  flight,  and  condemned  him  to  travel 
to  Toulouse  to  communicate  his  sentence  to  the 
Dominicans  of  that  city,  and  to  desire  them  to  ex- 
hume the  body  of  his  father  and  burn  it.  The  weak 
son  performed  his  disgraceful  mission,  and  brought 
back  to  Saragossa  the  certificate  of  the  Dominicans 
to  the  effect  that  the  corpse  of  the  father  had  been 
dishonored  on  the  prayer  of  the  son. 

Certain  towns  of  northern  Spain,  such  as  Lerida 
and  Barcelona,  still  obstinately  resisted  the  intro- 
duction of  the  Inquisition.  Their  resistance  proved 
vain.  The  iron  will  of  Fernando  and  the  blood- 
thirsty fanaticism  of  Torquemada  overcame  every 
obstacle,  and  the  papal  court  was  obliged  to  give 
its  assent  to  every  proposal.  From  that  time  forth 
the  number  of  victims  continued  to  increase.  On 
the  1 2th  of  February,  i486,  an  auto-da-fe  was  cele- 
brated in  Toledo  with  750  human  burnt-offerings, 
while  on  the  2d  of  April  in  the  same  year,  900  vic- 
tims were  offered  up,  and  on  the  7th  of  May,  750. 
On  the  i6th  of  August  twenty-five  Jewish  heretics 
were  burnt  alive  in  Toledo  ;  on  the  following  day 
two  priests  suffered ;  and  on  the  loth  of  December 
950  persons  were  condemned  to  shameful  public 
penance.  In  the  following  year,  when  the  Inquisi- 
tion was  established  in  Barcelona  and  on  the  island 
of  Majorca,  two  hundred  Marranos  suffered  death 
by  fire  in  these  places  alone.  A  Jew  of  that  time, 
Isaac  Arama,  writes  on  this  subject  as  follows  :  "In 
these  days  the  smoke  of  the  martyr's  pyre  rises  un 
ceasingly  to  heaven  in  all  the  Spanish  kingdoms 
and  the  isles.  One-third  of  the  Marranos  have  per- 
ished in  the  flames,  another  third  wander  homeless 
over  the  earth  seeking  where  they  may  hide  them- 
selves, and  the  remainder  live  in  perpetual  terror 
of  a  trial."  So  the  tale  of  victims  grew  from  year 
to  year  under  the  eleven  tribunals  which  trans- 
formed the  fair  land  of  Spain  into  a  blazing  Tophet, 

CH.  X,  JEWISH    BISHOPS.  333 

whose  flames  soon  reached  and  devoured  the  Chris- 
tians themselves. 

The  pitiless  persecution  of  the  new-Christians  had 
its  origin  perhaps  even  more  in  the  racial  hatred 
of  the  pure-blooded  Spaniards  towards  the  children 
of  Judah  than  in  religious  fanaticism.  Persons  of 
Jewish  descent,  whom  it  was  impossible  justly  to 
accuse  of  heresy,  w^ere  included  in  the  accusations 
simply  because  they  held  high  offices.  They  were 
not  permitted  to  enjoy  any  dignity  or  to  exercise  any 
influence  in  the  country.  The  inquisitor-general, 
Torquemada,  even  laid  hands  upon  two  bishops  of 
Jewish  blood,  De  Avila  and  De  Aranda,  so  that,  if 
it  were  impossible  to  consign  them  to  the  flames,  he 
might  at  least  expel  them  from  their  sees. 



Friendship  of  Marranos  and  Jews — Torquemada  demands  of  the 
Rabbis  of  Toledo  the  Denunciation  of  Marranos — Judah  Ibn- 
Verga — Jewish  Courtiers  under  Ferdinand  and  Isabella — Isaac 
Abrabanel:  his  History  and  Writings — The  Jews  of  Portugal 
under  Alfonso  V — The  Ibn-Yachya  Brothers — Abrabanel's 
Flight  from  Portugal  to  Spain — The  Jews  of  Granada :  Isaac 
Hamon — Edict  of  Banishment  promulgated  by  Ferdinand  and 
Isabella — Its  Consequences — Departure  from  Spain — Number  of 
the  Exiles — Decline  in  the  Prosperity  of  Spain  after  the  Banish- 
ment of  the  Jews — Transformation  of  Synagogues  and  Schools 
into  Churches  and  Monasteries — The  Inquisition  and  the  Mar- 
ranos— Deza,  the  Successor  of  Torquemada. 

1483 — 1492  C.E. 

The  monster  of  the  Inquisition,  having  poured  out 
its  wrath  on  the  new-Christians,  now  stretched  its 
arms  over  the  Jews,  and  deHvered  them  to  a  miser- 
able fate.  The  connection  between  the  Jews  and 
the  Marranos  was  too  close  for  the  former  not  to 
be  made  to  participate  in  the  misfortunes  of  the  lat- 
ter. They  were  in  intimate  relations  with  each 
other,  were  bound  to  each  other  by  close,  brotherly 
ties.  The  Jews  experienced  heartfelt  pity  for  their 
unfortunate  brethren,  so  unwillingly  wearing  the 
mask  of  Christianity,  and  strove  to  keep  them  in 
touch  with  the  Jewish  community.  They  instructed 
Christian-born  Marranos  in  the  rites  of  Judaism, 
held  secret  meetings  with  them  for  prayer,  furnished 
them  with  religious  books  and  writings,  kept  them 
informed  of  the  occurrence  of  fasts  and  festivals, 
supplied  them  at  Easter  with  unleavened  bread,  and 
throughout  the  year  with  meat  prepared  according 
to  their  own  ritual,  and  circumcised  their  new-born 
sons.  In  Seville,  in  fact  in  the  whole  of  Andalusia, 
there  were  countless  new-Christians,  baptized  at  the 



time  of  the  furious  attack  upon  the  Jews  by  Ferdi- 
nand Martinez,  and  later  during  the  persecution  of 
1 391,  so  that  it  offered  a  good  field  for  the  activity 
of  Jews  who  were  endeavoring  to  bring  back  turn- 
coat brethren  into  the  ranks  of  Judaism.  One  of 
the  most  active  in  this  work  was  Judah  Ibn-Verga, 
of  Seville,  Kabbalist  and  astronomer,  who  was  held 
in  high  estimation  by  the  governor  of  Andalusia.  The 
king  and  queen  intended  to  call  the  Inquisition  into 
existence  here,  and  the  first  step  was  to  separate 
the  Jews  from  Christians,  especially  new-Christians, 
and  to  destroy  every  connecting  link  between  them. 
The  cortes  of  Toledo  insisted  on  the  enforcement  of 
the  stringent  regulations — hitherto  so  frequently 
evaded — for  special  Jewish  (and  Moorish)  quarters, 
but  the  strictly  executed  law  of  separation,  made  to 
take  effect  all  over  the  kingdom,  could  not  sever  the 
loving  relations  existing  between  Jews  and  Mar- 
ranos.  In  spite  of  all,  the  closest  intercommunion 
was  maintained,  only  more  secretly,  more  circum- 
spectly. The  greater  the  danger  of  discovery,  the 
the  greater  the  charm  of  meeting,  despite  the  Argus 
eyes  of  priestly  spies  and  their  myrmidons,  for  mu- 
tual solace  and  encouragement.  These  meetings  of 
the  Jews  and  Moors,  from  the  secrecy  with  which 
they  were  conducted,  and  the  danger  attending  them, 
wore  a  romantic  aspect.  A  loving  bond  of  union  was 
thus  created,  which  grew  closer  and  stronger  for 
every  effort  to  loosen  it. 

The  fiendish  Torquemada  strove  by  every  possi- 
ble means  to  destroy  these  ties.  As  soon  as  he  had 
become  grand  inquisitor,  he  issued  a  command  that 
Marranos  should  present  themselves  for  confession, 
ordered  the  rabbis  of  Toledo  to  be  convened,  and 
exacted  from  them  an  oath  that  they  would  inform 
against  new-Christians  who  observed  Jewish  rites 
and  ceremonies,  and  would  excommunicate  Jews 
who  refused  to  become  witnesses  against  their  own 
people.     They  were  threatened  with  heavy  punish- 

336  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

ment  if  they  refused  to  take  this  oath  (1485).  What 
a  tragical  struggle  for  the  rabbis  of  Toledo  !  They 
themselves  were  to  lend  a  hand  to  wrench  their 
faithful  brethren  from  Judaism,  and  deliver  them 
over  to  Christianity,  or,  rather,  to  the  stake  !  Surely, 
they  could  not  be  brought  to  this,  and  preferred 
to  suffer  punishment !  Judah  Ibn-Verga,  ordered 
by  the  inquisitors  to  deliver  over  pseudo- Chris- 
tians who  secretly  clung  to  Judaism,  chose  to 
leave  his  native  Seville,  and  fled  to  Lisbon,  where 
he  eventually  died  a  martyr's  death.  Since  the  in- 
quisitors could  not  attain  their  ends  through  Jews, 
who,  despite  all  measures,  continued  their  secret 
intercourse  with  new-Christians,  they  urged  the  king 
and  queen  to  issue  a  mandate  for  the  partial  expul- 
sion of  the  Jews  from  Andalusia,  especially  from 

The  Castilian  and  Aragonese  Jews  might  have 
known,  from  these  sad  events,  that  their  sojourn 
could  not  be  of  long  duration ;  but  they  loved  Spain 
too  dearly  to  part  from  her  except  under  compul- 
sion. Besides,  the  king  and  queen  often  protected 
them  from  unfair  treatment.  When  they  removed 
to  special  Jewish  quarters,  Ferdinand  and  Isabella 
were  at  great  pains  to  shield  them  from  annoyance 
and  chicanery.  Moreover,  under  the  rule  of  these 
Catholic  sovereigns  there  were  Jewish  tithe  and  tax 
collectors,  and,  finally,  the  Jews  relied  upon  the  fact 
that  they  were  indispensable  to  the  Christians.  The 
sick  preferred  to  seek  advice  with  Jewish  physicians, 
the  lower  classes  consulted  Jews  on  legal  questions, 
and  even  asked  them  to  read  the  letters  or  docu- 
ments which  they  received  from  the  clergy.  In  ad- 
dition to  all  this,  it  happened  that,  at  the  time 
when  Torquemada  was  casting  his  snares  over  the 
Moors  and  Jews,  the  celebrated  Abrabanel  received 
an  important  post  at  the  court  of  Castile,  and  en- 
joyed unlimited  confidence.  Under  his  protection 
the  Spanish  Jews  hoped  to  be  able  to  defy  the  fury 


of  the  venomous  Dominicans.  Abrabanel's  favored 
position  at  court,  the  geniahty  of  his  character,  his 
affection  for  the  Hebrew  race,  his  love  of  learning, 
and  his  tried  wisdom,  brought  back  the  time  of 
Samuel  Nagrela,  and  lulled  the  Jews  with  false 

Don  Isaac  ben  Judah  Abrabanel  (born  in  Lisbon 
1437,  died  in  Venice  1509)  worthily  closes  the  list 
of  Jewish  statesmen  in  Spain  who,  beginning  with 
Chasdai  Ibn-Shaprut,  used  their  names  and  posi- 
tions to  protect  the  interests  of  their  race.  In  his 
noble-mindedness,  his  contemporaries  saw  proofs  of 
Abrabanel' s  descent  from  the  royal  house  of  David, 
a  distinction  on  which  the  Abrabanels  prided  them- 
selves, and  which  was  generally  conceded  to  them. 
His  grandfather,  Samuel  Abrabanel,  who,  during 
the  persecution  of  1391,  but  probably  only  for  a 
short  time,  lived  as  a  Christian,  was  a  large-hearted, 
generous  man,  who  supported  Jewish  learning  and 
its  votaries.  His  father,  Judah,  treasurer  to  a 
Portuguese  prince,  was  wealthy  and  benevolent, 
Isaac  Abrabanel  was  precocious,  of  clear  under- 
standing, but  sober-minded,  without  imagination 
and  without  depth.  The  realities  of  life,  present 
conditions  and  events,  he  grasped  with  unerring 
tact ;  but  what  was  distant,  less  obvious  to  ordinary 
perceptions,  lay  veiled  in  a  mist  which  he  was  un- 
able to  penetrate  or  dispel.  The  origin  of  Judaism, 
its  splendid  antiquity,  and  its  conception  of  God, 
were  favorite  themes  with  Abrabanel  from  his  youth 
upward,  and  when  still  quite  a  young  man  he  pub- 
lished a  treatise  setting  forth  the  providence  of  God 
and  its  special  relation  to  Israel.  Philosophical 
conceptions  were,  however,  acquired,  not  innate 
with  him ;  he  had  no  ability  to  solve  metaphysical 
questions.  On  the  other  hand,  he  was  a  solid  man 
of  business,  who  thoroughly  understood  finance  and 
affairs  of  state.  The  reigning  king  of  Portugal, 
Don  Alfonso  V,  an  intelligent,  genial,  amiable  ruler, 


was  able  to  appreciate  Abrabanel's  talents  ;  he  sumi 
moned  him  to  his  court,  confided  to  him  the  con- 
duct of  his  financial  affairs,  and  consulted  him  on  all 
important  state  questions.  His  noble  disposition, 
his  sincerely  devout  spirit,  his  modesty,  far  removed 
from  arrogance,  and  his  unselfish  prudence,  secured 
for  him  at  court,  and  far  outside  its  circle,  the  es- 
teem and  affection  of  Christian  grandees.  Abra- 
banel  stood  in  friendly  intimacy  with  the  powerful, 
but  mild  and  beneficent  Duke  Ferdinand  of  Bra- 
ganza,  lord  of  fifty  towns,  boroughs,  castles,  and 
fortresses,  and  able  to  bring  10,000  foot-soldiers 
and  3,000  cavalry  into  the  field,  as  also  with  his  bro- 
thers, the  Marquis  of  Montemar,  Constable  of  Por- 
tugal, and  the  Count  of  Faro,  who  lived  together  in 
fraternal  affection.  With  the  learned  John  Sezira, 
who  was  held  in  high  consideration  at  court,  and  was 
a  warm  patron  of  the  Jews,  he  enjoyed  close  friend- 
ship. Abrabanel  thus  describes  his  happy  life  at  the 
court  of  King  Alfonso : 

"  Tranquilly  I  lived  in  my  inherited  house  in  fair  Lisbon.  God 
had  given  me  blessings,  riches  and  honor.  I  had  built  myself  stately 
buildings  and  chambers.  My  house  was  the  meeting-place  of  the 
learned  and  the  wise.  I  was  a  favorite  in  the  palace  of  Alfonso,  a 
mighty  and  upright  king,  under  whom  the  Jews  enjoyed  freedom  and 
prosperity.  I  was  close  to  him,  was  his  support,  and  while  he  lived 
I  frequented  his  palace." 

Alfonso's  reign  was  the  end  of  the  golden  time 
for  the  Jews  of  the  Pyrenean  Peninsula,  Although 
in  his  time  the  Portuguese  code  of  laws  (Ordena9oens 
de  Alfonso  V),  containing  Byzantine  elements  and 
canonical  restrictions  for  the  Jews,  was  completed, 
it  must  be  remembered  that,  on  the  one  hand,  the 
king,  who  was  a  minor,  had  had  no  share  in  framing 
them,  and,  on  the  other,  the  hateful  laws  were  not 
carried  out.  In  his  time  the  Jews  in  Portugal  bore 
no  badge,  but  rode  on  richly  caparisoned  horses 
and  mules,  wore  the  costume  of  the  country,  long 
coats,  fine  hoods  and  silken  vests,  and  carried  gilded 
swords,  so   that  they  could  not  be  distinguished 

CH.  XI.  JEWS   UNDER   ALFONSO   V.  539 

from  Christians.  The  greater  number  of  the  tax- 
farmers  (Rendeiros)  in  Portugal  were  Jews.  Princes 
of  the  church  even  appointed  Jewish  receivers  of 
church  taxes,  at  which  the  cortes  of  Lisbon  raised 
complaint.  The  independence  of  the  Jewish  popu- 
lation under  the  chief  rabbi  and  the  seven  provincial 
rabbis  was  protected  in  Alfonso's  reign,  and  in- 
cluded in  the  code.  This  code  conceded  to  Jews 
the  right  to  print  their  public  documents  in  Hebrew, 
instead  of  in  Portuguese  as  hitherto  commanded. 

Abrabanel  was  not  the  only  Jewish  favorite  at 
Alfonso's  court.  Two  brothers  Ibn-Yachya  Negro 
also  frequented  the  court  of  Lisbon.  They  were 
sons  of  a  certain  Don  David,  who  had  recom- 
mended them  not  to  invest  their  rich  inheritance 
in  real  estate,  for  he  saw  that  banishment  was  in 
store  for  the  Portuguese  Jews. 

As  long  as  Isaac  Abrabanel  enjoyed  the  king's 
favor,  he  was  as  a  "shield  and  a  wall  for  his  race, 
and  delivered  the  sufferers  from  their  oppressors, 
healed  differences,  and  kept  fierce  lions  at  bay,"  as 
described  by  his  poetical  son,  Judah  Leon.  He 
who  had  a  warm  heart  for  all  afflicted,  and  was 
father  to  the  orphan  and  consoler  to  the  sorrowing, 
felt  yet  deeper  compassion  for  the  unfortunate  of 
his  own  people.  When  Alfonso  conquered  the  port 
of  Arzilla,  in  Africa,  the  victors  brought  with  them, 
among  many  thousand  captive  Moors,  250  Jews, 
who  were  sold  as  slaves  throughout  the  kingdom. 
That  Jews  and  Jewesses  should  be  doomed  to  the 
miseries  of  slavery  was  unendurable  to  Abrabanel's 
heart.  At  his  summons  a  committee  of  twelve  rep- 
resentatives of  the  Lisbon  community  was  formed, 
and  collected  funds ;  then,  with  a  colleague,  he  trav- 
eled over  the  whole  country  and  redeemed  the 
Jewish  slaves,  often  at  a  high  price.  The  ransomed 
Jews  and  Jewesses,  adults  and  children,  were  clothed, 
lodged,  and  maintained  until  they  had  learned  the 
language  of  the  country,  and  were  able  to  support 

340  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

When  King  Alfonso  sent  an  embassy  to  Pope 
Sixtus  IV  to  congratulate  him  upon  his  accession  to 
the  throne,  and  to  send  him  tidings  of  his  victory- 
over  the  Moors  in  Africa,  Doctor  John  Sezira  was 
one  of  the  ambassadors.  One  in  heart  and  soul 
with  Abrabanel,  and  friendly  to  the  Jews,  he  prom- 
ised to  speak  to  the  pope  in  their  favor  and  behalf. 
Abrabanel  begged  his  Italian  friend,  Yechiel  of  Pisa, 
to  receive  John  Sezira  with  a  friendly  welcome,  to 
place  himself  entirely  at  his  disposal,  and  convey  to 
him,  and  to  the  chief  ambassador.  Lopes  de  Al- 
meida, how  gratified  the  Italian  Jews  were  to  hear 
of  King  Alfonso's  favor  to  the  Jews  in  his  country, 
so  that  the  king  and  his  courtiers  might  feel  flattered. 
Thus  Abrabanel  did  everything  in  his  power  for  the 
good  of  his  brethren  in  faith  and  race. 

In  the  midst  of  prosperity,  enjoyed  with  his  gra- 
cious and  cultured  wife  and  three  fine  sons,  Judah 
Leon,  Isaac  and  Samuel,  he  was  disturbed  by  the 
turn  of  affairs  in  Portugal.  His  patron,  Alfonso  V, 
died,  and  was  succeeded  by  Don  Joao  II  (1481 — 
1495),  a  man  in  every  way  unlike  his  father — stronger 
of  will,  less  kindly,  and  full  of  dissimulation.  He 
had  been  crowned  in  his  father's  lifetime,  and  was 
not  rejoiced  when  Alfonso,  believed  to  be  dead,  sud- 
denly re-appeared  in  Portugal.  Joao  II  followed  the 
tactics  of  his  unscrupulous  contemporary,  Louis  XI 
of  France,  in  the  endeavor  to  rid  himself  of  the 
Portuguese  grandees  in  order  to  create  an  absolute 
monarchy.  His  first  victim  was  to  be  Duke  Ferdi- 
nand of  Braganza,  of  royal  blood,  almost  as  power- 
ful and  as  highly  considered  as  himself,  and  better 
beloved.  Don  Joao  II  was  anxious  to  clear  from  his 
path  this  duke  and  his  brothers,  against  whom  he 
had  a  personal  grudge.  While  flattering  the  Duke 
of  Braganza,  he  had  a  letter  set  up  against  him,  ac- 
cusing him  of  a  secret,  traitorous  understanding  with 
the  Spanish  sovereigns,  the  truth  of  which  has  not 
to  this  day  been  satisfactorily  ascertained.     He  ar- 

CH.  XI.  ABRABANEL   IN   SPAIN.  34 1 

rested  him  with  a  Judas  kiss,  caused  him  to  be  tried 
as  a  traitor  to  his  country,  sent  him  to  the  block,  and 
took  possession  of  his  estates  and  wealth  (June, 
1483).  His  brothers  were  forced  to  fly  to  avoid  a 
like  fate.  Inasmuch  as  Isaac  Abrabanel  had  lived  in 
friendly  relations  with  the  Duke  of  Braganza  and 
his  brothers,  King  Joao  chose  to  suspect  him  of  hav- 
ing been  implicated  in  the  recent  conspiracies.  Ene- 
mies of  the  Jewish  statesman  did  their  best  to 
strengthen  these  suspicions.  The  king  sent  a  com- 
mand for  him  to  appear  before  him.  Not  suspect- 
ing any  evil,  Abrabanel  was  about  to  obey,  when  an 
unknown  friend  appeared,  told  him  his  life  was  in 
danger,  and  counseled  him  to  hasty  flight.  Warned 
by  the  fate  of  the  Duke  of  Braganza,  Abrabanel  fol- 
lowed the  advice,  and  fled  to  Spain.  The  king  sent 
mounted  soldiery  after  him,  but  they  could  not  over- 
take him,  and  he  reached  the  Spanish  border  in 
safet}\  In  a  humble  but  manly  letter  he  declared  his 
innocence  of  the  crime,  and  also  the  innocence  of 
the  Duke  of  Braganza.  The  suspicious  t)Tant  gave 
no  credence  to  the  letter  of  defense,  but  caused 
Abrabanel's  property  to  be  confiscated,  as  also  that 
of  his  son,  Judah  Leon,  who  was  already  following 
the  profession  of  a  physician.  His  wife  and  chil- 
dren, however,  he  permitted  to  remove  to  Castile. 

In  the  city  of  Toledo,  where  he  found  refuge,  Isaac 
Abrabanel  was  honorably  received  by  the  Jews, 
especially  by  the  cultured.  A  circle  of  learned  men 
and  disciples  gathered  round  the  famous,  inno- 
cently persecuted  Jewish  statesman.  With  the 
rabbi,  Isaac  Aboab,  and  with  the  chief  tithe-col- 
lector, Abraham  Senior,  he  formed  a  close  friend- 
ship. The  latter,  it  seems,  at  once  took  him  into 
partnership  in  the  collection  of  taxes.  Abrabanel's 
conscience  pricked  him  for  having  neglected  the 
study  of  the  Law  in  following  state  affairs  and  mam- 
mon, and  he  attributed  his  misfortunes  to  the  just 
punishment  of  heaven.     He  at  once  began  to  write, 

342  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

at  the  earnest  entreaty  of  his  new  friends,  an  expo- 
sition of  the  books  of  the  earHer  prophets,  hitherto, 
on  account  of  their  apparent  simpHcity,  neglected 
by  commentators.  As  he  had  given  thought  to 
them  before,  he  soon  completed  the  work.  Cer- 
tainly, no  one  was  better  qualified  than  Abrabanel 
to  expound  historical  biblical  literature.  In  addition 
to  knowledge  of  languages,  he  had  experience  of 
the  world,  and  the  insight  into  political  problems 
and  complications  necessary  for  unraveling  the  Isra- 
elitish  records. 

He  had  the  advantage  over  other  expositors  in 
using  the  Christian  exegetical  writings  of  Jerome, 
Nicholas  de  Lyra,  and  the  baptized  Paul  of  Burgos, 
and  taking  from  them  what  was  most  valuable. 
Abrabanel,  therefore,  in  these  commentaries,  shed 
light  upon  many  obscure  passages.  They  are  con- 
ceived in  a  scholarly  style,  arranged  systematically, 
and  before  each  book  appear  a  comprehensible 
preface  and  a  table  of  contents,  an  arrangement 
copied  from  Christian  commentators,  and  adroitly 
turned  to  account  by  him.  Had  Abrabanel  not  been 
so  diffuse  in  style,  and  not  had  the  habit  of  intro- 
ducing each  Scriptural  chapter  with  superflous  ques- 
tions, his  dissertations  would  have  been,  or,  at  all 
events,  would  have  deserved  to  be,  more  popular. 
Nor  should  he  have  gone  beyond  his  province  into 
philosophical  inquiry.  Abrabanel  accepted  the  or- 
thodox point  of  view  of  Nachmani  and  Chasdai, 
merely  supplementing  them  with  commonplaces  of 
his  own.  He  was  not  tolerant  enough  to  listen  to 
a  liberal  view  of  Judaism  and  its  doctrines,  and  ac- 
cused the  works  of  Albalag  and  Narboni  of  heresy, 
classing  these  inquirers  with  the  unprincipled  apos- 
tate, Abner- Alfonso,  of  Valladolid.  He  was  no  better 
pleased  with  Levi  ben  Gerson,  because  he  had  re- 
sorted to  philosophical  interpretations  in  many  cases, 
and  did  not  accept  miracles  unconditionally.  Like 
the  strictly  orthodox  Jews  of  his  day,  such  as  Joseph 


Jaabez,  he  was  persuaded  that  the  humiliations  and 
persecutions  suffered  by  the  Jews  of  Spain  were  due 
to  their  heresy.  Yet,  did  German  Jews,  wholly  un- 
touched by  heretical  philosophy,  suffer  less  than 
their  brethren  in  Spain  ?  Only  a  brief  time  was 
granted  to  Abrabanel  to  pursue  his  favorite  study; 
the  author  was  once  more  compelled  to  become  a 
statesman.  When  about  to  delineate  Judaean  and 
Israelite  monarchs,  he  was  summoned  to  the  court 
of  Ferdinand  and  Isabella  to  be  intrusted  with  the 
care  of  their  finances.  The  revenues  seem  to  have 
prospered  under  his  management,  and  during  his 
eight  years  of  office  (March,  1484 — March,  1492) 
nothing  went  wrong  with  them.  He  was  very  use- 
ful to  the  royal  pair  by  reason  of  his  wisdom  and 
prudent  counsel.  Abrabanel  himself  relates  that  he 
grew  rich  in  the  king's  service,  and  bought  himself 
land  and  estates,  and  that  from  the  court  and  the 
highest  grandees  he  received  great  consideration 
and  honor.  He  must  have  been  indispensable,  see- 
ing that  the  Catholic  sovereigns,  under  the  very 
eyes  of  the  malignant  Torquemada,  and  in  spite  of 
canonical  decrees  and  all  the  resolutions  repeatedly 
laid  down  by  the  cortes  forbidding  Jews  to  hold 
office  in  the  government,  were  compelled  to  intrust 
this  Jewish  minister  of  finance  with  the  mainspring  of 
political  life  !  How  many  services  Abrabanel  did  for 
his  own  people  during  his  time  of  office,  grateful 
memory  could  not  preserve  by  reason  of  the  storm 
of  misfortunes  which  broke  upon  the  Jews  later ; 
but  in  Castile,  as  he  had  been  in  Portugal,  he  was 
as  a  wall  of  protection  to  them.  Lying  and  fearful 
accusations  from  their  bitter  foes,  the  Dominicans, 
were  not  wanting.  At  one  time  it  was  said  that  the 
Jews  had  shown  disrespect  to  some  cross ;  at  an- 
other, that  in  the  town  of  La  Guardia  they  had 
stolen  and  crucified  a  Christian  child.  From  this 
tissue  of  lies,  Torquemada  fabricated  a  case  against 
the  Jews,  and  condemned  the  supposed  criminals  to 

344  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

the  stake.  In  Valencia  they  were  declared  to  have 
made  a  similar  attempt,  but  to  have  been  interrupted 
in  the  deed  (1488 — 1490).  That  the  Castilian  Jews 
did  not  suffer  extinction  for  the  succor  they  afforded 
the  unfortunate  Marranos,  was  certainly  owing  to 

Meantime  began  the  war  with  Granada,  so  disas- 
trous for  the  Moors  and  Jews,  which  lasted  with  in- 
tervals for  ten  years  (1481 — 1491).  To  this  the 
Jews  had  to  contribute.  A  heavy  impost  was  laid 
upon  the  community  (Alfarda — Strangers'  Tax),  on 
which  the  royal  treasurer,  Villaris,  insisted  with 
the  utmost  strictness.  The  Jews  were,  so  to  say, 
made  to  bring  the  fagots  to  their  own  funeral  pyre, 
and  the  people,  adding  insult  to  injury,  mocked 
them.  In  the  province  of  Granada,  which  by  pride 
had  brought  about  its  own  fall,  there  were  many 
Jews,  their  numbers  having  been  increased  by  the 
Marranos  who  had  fled  thither  to  avoid  death  at  the 
stake.  Their  position  was  not  enviable,  for  Spanish 
hatred  of  Jews  was  strongly  implanted  there ;  but 
their  creed  was  not  attacked,  and  their  lives  were 
not  in  constant  peril.  Isaac  Hamon  was  physician 
in  ordinary  to  one  of  the  last  kings  of  Granada,  and 
enjoyed  high  favor  at  court.  One  day  a  quarrel 
arose  in  the  streets  of  Granada,  and  the  bystanders 
implored  the  disputants  to  leave  off  in  the  name  of 
their  prophet,  but  in  vain.  But  when  they  were 
bidden  to  give  over  in  the  name  of  the  royal  physi- 
cian, they  yielded.  This  occurrence,  which  testified 
that  Isaac  Hamon  was  held  in  more  respect  by  the 
populace  than  the  prophet  Mahomet,  roused  certain 
bigoted  Mahometans  to  fall  upon  the  Jews  of  Gra- 
nada and  butcher  them.  Only  those  escaped  who 
found  refuge  in  the  royal  castle.  The  Jewish  phy- 
sicians of  Granada  came  to  the  resolution  henceforth 
not  to  clothe  themselves  in  silken  garments,  nor  ride 
on  horseback,  in  order  to  avoid  exciting  the  envy  of 
the  Mahometans. 

CH.  XI.  FALL   OF   GRANADA.  345 

After  long  and  bloody  strife  the  beautiful  city  of 
Granada  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  proud  Spaniards. 
Frivolous  Muley  Abu-Abdallah  (Boabdil),  the  last 
king,  signed  a  secret  treaty  with  Ferdinand  and  Isa- 
bella (25th  November,  1491)  to  give  up  the  town 
and  its  territory  by  a  certain  time.  The  conditions, 
seeing  that  independence  was  lost,  were  tolerably 
favorable.  The  Moors  were  to  keep  their  religious 
freedom,  their  civil  laws,  their  right  to  leave  the 
country,  and  above  all  their  manners  and  customs, 
and  were  only  required  to  pay  the  taxes  which  hith- 
erto they  had  paid  the  Moorish  king»  The  rene- 
gades— that  is  to  say.  Christians  who  had  adopted 
Islam,  or,  more  properly  speaking,  the  Moorish 
pseudo-Christians — who  had  fled  from  the  Inquisi- 
tion to  Granada,  and  returned  to  Islam,  were  to  re- 
main unmolested.  The  Inquisition  was  not  to  claim 
jurisdiction  over  them.  The  Jews  of  the  capital  of 
Granada,  of  the  Albaicin  quarter,  the  suburbs  and 
the  Alpujarras,  were  included  in  the  provisions  of 
the  treaty.  They  were  to  enjoy  the  same  indul- 
gences and  the  same  rights,  except  that  relapsed 
Marranos  were  to  leave  the  city,  only  the  first  month 
after  its  surrender  being  the  term  allowed  for  emi- 
gration ;  those  who  stayed  longer  were  to  be  handed 
over  to  the  Inquisition.  One  noteworthy  point,  stipu- 
lated by  the  last  Moorish  king  of  Granada,  was  that 
no  Jew  should  be  set  over  the  vanquished  Moors  as 
officer  of  justice,  tax-gatherer,  or  commissioner.  On 
January  2d,  1492,  Ferdinand  and  Isabella,  with  their 
court,  amid  ringing  of  bells,  and  great  pomp  and 
circumstance,  made  their  entry  into  Granada.  The 
Mahometan  kingdom  of  the  Peninsula  had  vanished 
like  a  dream  in  an  Arabian  Nights'  legend.  The  last 
prince,  Muley  Abu-Abdallah,  cast  one  long  sad  fare- 
well look,  "  with  a  last  sigh,"  over  the  glory  forever 
lost,  and  retired  to  the  lands  assigned  to  him  in  the 
Alpujarras,  but,  unable  to  overcome  his  dejection,  he 
turned  his  steps  towards  Africa.     After  nearly  eight 

34^  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

hundred  years  the  whole  Pyrenean  Peninsula  again 
became  Christian,  as  it  had  been  in  the  time  of  the 
Visigoths.  But  heaven  could  not  rejoice  over  this 
conquest,  which  delivered  fresh  human  sacrifices 
to  the  lords  of  hell.  The  Jews  were  the  first  to 
experience  the  tragical  effect  of  this  conquest  of 

The  war  against  the  Mahometans  of  Granada, 
originally  undertaken  to  punish  attempts  at  en- 
croachment and  breach  of  faith,  assumed  the  char- 
acter of  a  crusade  against  unbelief,  of  a  holy  war 
for  the  exaltation  of  the  cross  and  the  spread  of  the 
Christian  faith.  Not  only  the  bigoted  queen  and 
the  unctuous  king,  but  also  many  Spaniards  were 
dragged  by  this  conquest  into  raging  fanaticism. 
Are  the  unbelieving  Mahometans  to  be  vanquished, 
and  the  still  more  unbelieving  Jews  to  go  free  in 
the  land  ?  This  question  was  too  pertinent  not  to 
meet  with  an  answer  unfavorable  to  the  Jews.  The 
insistence  of  Torquemada  and  friends  of  his  own 
way  of  thinking,  that  the  Jews,  who  had  long  been  a 
thorn  in  their  flesh,  should  be  expelled,  at  first  met 
with  indifference,  soon  began  to  receive  more  at- 
tention from  the  victors.  Then  came  the  considera- 
tion that  owing  to  increased  opulence,  consequent 
on  the  booty  acquired  from  the  wealthy  towns  of 
conquered  Granada,  the  Jews  were  no  longer  indis- 
pensable. Before  the  banner  of  the  cross  waved 
over  Granada,  Ferdinand  and  Isabella  had  contem- 
plated the  expulsion  of  the  Jews.  With  this  end  in 
view,  they  had  sent  an  embassy  to  Pope  Innocent 
VII,  stating  that  they  were  willing  to  banish  the 
Jews  from  the  country,  if  he,  Christ's  representa- 
tive, the  avenger  of  his  death,  set  them  the  exam- 
ple ;  but  even  this  abandoned  pope,  who  had  seven 
illegitimate  sons  and  as  many  daughters,  and  who, 
soon  after  his  accession  to  the  papal  chair,  had 
broken  a  solemn  oath,  was  opposed  to  the  expul- 
sion  of  the  Jews.     Meshullam,  of  Rome,  having 


heard  of  the  pope's  refusal,  with  great  joy  an- 
nounced to  the  Italian  and  Neapolitan  communities 
that  Innocent  would  not  consent  to  the  expulsion. 
The  Spanish  sovereigns  decided  on  the  banishment 
of  the  Jews  without  the  pope's  consent. 

From  the  enchanted  palace  of  the  Alhambra  there 
was  suddenly  issued  by  the  "Catholic  Sovereigns  " 
a  proclamation  that,  within  four  months,  the  Span- 
ish Jews  were  to  leave  every  portion  of  Castile,  Ara- 
gon,  Sicily  and  Sardinia  under  pain  of  death  (March 
31,  1492).  They  were  at  liberty  to  take  their  goods 
and  chattels  with  them,  but  neither  gold,  silver, 
money,  nor  forbidden  articles  of  export — only  such 
things  as  it  was  permitted  to  export.  This  heartless 
cruelty  Ferdinand  and  Isabella  sought  to  vindicate 
before  their  own  subjects  and  before  foreign  coun- 
tries. The  proclamation  did  not  accuse  the  Jews  of 
extravagant  usury,  of  unduly  enriching  themselves, 
of  sucking  the  marrow  from  the  bones  of  the  peo- 
ple, of  insulting  the  host,  or  of  crucifying  Christian 
children — not  one  syllable  was  said  of  these  things. 
But  it  set  forth  that  the  falling  away  of  the  new- 
Christians  into  "Jewish  unbelief"  was  caused  by  their 
intercourse  with  Jews.  The  proclamation  continued 
that  long  since  it  would  have  been  proper  to  banish 
the  Jews  on  account  of  their  wily  ways;  but  at  first 
the  sovereigns  had  tried  clemency  and  mild  means, 
banishing  only  the  Jews  of  Andalusia,  and  punish- 
ing only  the  most  guilty,  in  the  hope  that  these  steps 
would  suffice.  As,  however,  these  had  not  pre- 
vented the  Jews  from  continuing  to  pervert  the 
new-Christians  from  the  Catholic  faith,  nothing 
remained  but  for  their  majesties  to  exile  those  who 
had  lured  back  to  heresy  the  people  who  had  indeed 
fallen  away,  but  had  repented  and  returned  to 
holy  Mother  Church.  Therefore  had  their  majesties, 
in  council  with  the  princes  of  the  church,  grandees, 
and  learned  men,  resolved  to  banish  the  Jews  from 
their  kingdom.     No  Christian,  on  pain  of  confisca- 

348  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

tion  of  his  possessions,  should,  after  the  expiration 
of  a  certain  term,  give  succor  or  shelter  to  Jews. 
The  edict  of  Ferdinand  and  Isabella  is  good  testi- 
mony for  the  Jews  of  Spain  in  those  days,  since  no 
accusatioiis  could  be  brought  against  them  but  that 
they  had  remained  faithful  to  their  religion,  and  had 
sought  td  maintain  their  Marrano  brethren  in  it.  A 
legend  relates  that  their  majesties  were  embittered 
against  the  Jews,  because  the  Infante  had  found  the 
picture  of  a  crucified  Holy  Child  in  an  orange  which 
a  Jewish  courtier  had  given  him. 

The  long-dreaded  blow  had  fallen.  The  Spanish 
Jews  were  to  leave  the  country,  round  which  the 
fibers  of  their  hearts  had  grown,  where  lay  the 
graves  of  their  forefathers  of  at  least  fifteen  hundred 
years,  and  towards  whose  greatness,  wealth,  and 
culture  they  had  so  largely  contributed.  The  blow 
fell  upon  them  like  a  thunderbolt.  Abrabanel 
thought  that  he  might  be  able  to  avert  it  by  his 
influence.  He  presented  himself  before  the  king 
and  queen,  and  offered  enormous  sums  in  the  name 
of  the  Jews  if  the  edict  were  removed.  His  Chris- 
tian friends,  eminent  grandees,  supported  his 
efforts.  Ferdinand,  who  took  more  interest  in 
enriching  his  coffers  than  in  the  Catholic  faith,  was 
inclined  to  yield.  Then  the  fanatical  grand  inquis- 
itor, Torquemada,  lifted  up  his  voice.  It  is  related 
that  he  took  upon  himself  to  rush  into  the  presence 
of  the  king  and  queen,  carrying  the  crucifix  aloft,  and 
uttering  these  winged  words:  "Judas  Iscariot  sold 
Christ  for  thirty  pieces  of  silver ;  your  highnesses 
are  about  to  sell  Him  for  300,000  ducats.  Here  He 
is,  take  Him,  and  sell  Him!"  Then  he  left  the 
hall.  These  words,  or  the  influence  of  other  eccle- 
siastics, had  a  strong  effect  upon  Isabella.  She 
resolved  to  abide  by  the  edict,  and,  of  bolder  spirit 
than  the  king,  contrived  to  keep  alive  his  enmity 
against  the  Jews.  Juan  de  Lucena,  a  member  of 
the  royal  council  of  Aragon,  as  well  as  minister, 


was  equally  active  in  maintaining  the  edict.  At  the 
end  of  April  heralds  and  trumpeters  went  through 
the  whole  country,  proclaiming  that  the  Jews  were 
permitted  to  remain  only  till  the  end  of  July  to  set 
their  affairs  in  order ;  whoever  of  them  was  found 
after  that  time  on  Spanish  ground  would  suffer 

Great  as  was  the  consternation  of  the  Spanish 
Jews  at  having  to  tear  themselves  from  the  beloved 
land  of  their  birth  and  the  ashes  of  their  forefathers, 
and  go  forth  to  an  uncertain  future  in  strange  lands, 
among  people  whose  speech  they  did  not  under- 
stand, who,  perhaps,  might  be  more  unfriendly 
towards  them  than  the  Spanish  Christians,  they  had 
to  bestir  themselves  and  make  preparation  for  their 
exodus.  At  every  step  they  realized  that  a  yet 
more  cruel  fate  awaited  them.  Had  they  been 
able,  like  the  English  Jews  at  the  end  of  the  thir- 
teenth century,  and  the  French  a  century  later,  to 
take  their  riches  with  them,  they  might  have  been 
able  to  provide  some  sort  of  miserable  existence  for 
themselves  ;  but  the  Jewish  capitalists  were  not  per- 
mitted to  take  their  money  with  them,  they  were 
compelled  to  accept  bills  of  exchange  for  it.  But 
Spain,  on  account  of  its  dominant  knightly  and 
ecclesiastical  element,  had  no  places  of  exchange 
like  those  in  Italy,  where  commercial  notes  were  of 
value.  Business  on  a  large  scale  was  in  the  hands, 
for  the  most  part,  of  Jews  and  new-Christians,  and 
the  latter,  from  fear,  had  to  keep  away  from  their 
brethren  in  race.  The  Jews  who  owned  land  were 
forced  to  part  with  it  at  absurd  prices,  because  no 
buyers  applied,  and  they  were  obliged  to  beg  the 
Christians  for  even  the  meanest  thing  in  exchange. 
A  contemporary,  Andreas  Bernaldez,  pastor  of  Los 
Palacios,  relates  that  the  most  magnificent  houses 
and  the  most  beautiful  estates  of  the  Jews  were  sold 
for  a  trifle.  A  house  was  bartered  for  an  ass,  and 
a  vineyard  for  a  piece  of  cloth  or  linen.     Thus  the 

350  HISTORY    OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

riches  of  the  Spanish  Jews  melted  away,  and  could 
not  help  them  in  their  day  of  need.  In  Aragon, 
Catalonia  and  Valencia,  it  was  even  worse  with 
them.  Torquemada,  who  on  this  occasion  exceeded 
his  former  inhumanity,  forbade  the  Christians  to 
have  any  intercourse  with  them.  In  these  provinces 
Ferdinand  sequestrated  their  possessions,  so  that 
not  only  their  debts,  but  also  the  claims  which 
monasteries  pretended  to  have  upon  them  were 
paid.  This  fiendish  plan  he  devised  for  the  benefit 
of  the  church.  The  Jews  would  thereby  be  driven 
to  despair,  and  turn  to  the  cross  for  succor.  Tor- 
quemada, therefore,  imposed  on  the  Dominicans  the 
task  of  preaching  Christianity  everywhere,  and  of 
calling  upon  the  Jews  to  receive  baptism,  and  thus 
remain  in  the  land.  On  the  other  side,  the  rabbis 
bade  the  people  remain  steadfast,  accept  their  trials 
as  tests  of  their  firmness,  and  trust  in  God,  who  had 
been  with  them  in  so  many  days  of  trouble.  The 
fiery  eloquence  of  the  rabbis  was  not  necessary. 
Each  one  encouraged  his  neighbor  to  remain  true 
and  steadfast  to  the  Jewish  faith.  "  Let  us  be 
strong,"  so  they  said  to  each  other,  "  for  our  religion, 
and  for  the  Law  of  our  fathers  before  our  enemies 
and  blasphemers.  If  they  will  let  us  live,  we  shall 
live ;  if  they  kill  us,  then  shall  we  die.  We  will  not 
desecrate  the  covenant  of  our  God  ;  our  heart  shall 
not  fail  us.  We  will  go  forth  in  the  name  of  the 
Lord."  If  they  had  submitted  to  baptism,  would 
they  not  have  fallen  into  the  power  of  the  blood- 
stained Inquisition  ?  The  cross  had  lost  its  power 
of  attraction  even  for  lukewarm  Jews,  since  they  had 
seen  upon  what  trivial  pretexts  members  of  their 
race  were  delivered  over  to  the  stake.  One  year 
before  the  proclamation  of  banishment  was  made, 
thirty-two  new-Christians  in  Seville  were  bound 
living  to  the  stake,  sixteen  were  burned  in  effigy, 
and  625  sentenced  to  do  penance.  The  Jews, 
moreover,  were  not  ignorant  of  the  false  and  deceit- 


ful  ways  in  which  Torquemada  entrapped  his  vic- 
tims. Many  pseudo-Christians  had  fled  from 
Seville,  Cordova  and  Jaen,  to  Granada,  where  they 
had  returned  to  the  Jewish  faith.  After  the  con- 
quest of  the  town,  Torquemada  proclaimed  that  if 
they  came  back  to  Mother  Church,  "whose  arms 
are  always  open  to  embrace  those  who  return  to 
her  with  repentance  and  contrition,"  they  would  be 
treated  with  mildness,  and  in  private,  without  on- 
lookers, would  receive  absolution.  A  few  allowed 
themselves  to  be  charmed  by  this  sweet  voice, 
betook  themselves  to  Toledo,  and  were  pardoned — 
to  a  death  of  fire.  Thus  it  came  about  that,  in 
spite  of  the  preaching  of  the  Dominicans,  and  not- 
withstanding their  indescribably  terrible  position, 
few  Jews  passed  over  to  Christianity  in  the  year  of 
the  expulsion  from  Spain.  Among  persons  of  note, 
only  the  rich  tax-collector  and  chief  rabbi,  Abraham 
Senior,  his  son,  and  his  son-in-law,  Meir,  a  rabbi, 
went  over,  with  the  two  sons  of  the  latter.  It  is 
said  that  they  received  baptism  in  desperation, 
because  the  queen,  who  did  not  want  to  lose  her 
clever  minister  of  finance,  threatened  heavier  perse- 
cution of  the  departing  Jews,  if  these  did  not  submit. 
Great  was  the  rejoicing  at  court  over  the  baptism 
of  Senior  and  his  family.  Their  majesties  them- 
selves and  the  cardinal  stood  as  sponsors.  The 
newly-baptized  all  took  the  family  name  of  Coronel, 
and  their  descendants  filled  some  of  the  highest 
offices  in  the  state. 

Their  common  misfortune  and  suffering  devel- 
oped among  the  Spanish  Jews  in  those  last  days 
before  their  exile  deep  brotherly  affection  and  ex- 
alted sentiments,  which,  could  they  have  lasted, 
would  surely  have  borne  good  fruit.  The  rich,  al- 
though their  wealth  had  dwindled,  divided  it  fra- 
ternally with  the  poor,  allowing  them  to  want  for 
nothing,  so  that  they  should  not  fall  into  the  hands 
of  the  church,  and  also  paid  the  charges  of  their 

352  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

exodus.  The  aged  rabbi,  Isaac  Aboab,  the  friend  of 
Abrabanel,  went  with  thirty  Jews  of  rank  to  Portu- 
gal, to  negotiate  with  King  Joao  II,  for  the  settle- 
ment of  the  Jews  in  that  country,  or  for  their  safe 
passage  through  it.  They  succeeded  in  making  tol- 
erably favorable  conditions.  The  pain  of  leaving 
their  passionately  loved  country  could  not  be  over- 
come. The  nearer  the  day  of  departure  came,  the 
more  were  the  hearts  of  the  unhappy  people  wrung. 
The  graves  of  their  forefathers  were  dearer  to  them 
than  all  besides,  and  from  these  they  found  part- 
ing hardest.  The  Jews  of  the  town  of  Vitoria  gave 
to  the  community  the  Jewish  cemetery  and  its  apper- 
taining grounds  in  perpetuity,  on  condition  that  it 
should  never  be  encroached  upon,  nor  planted  over, 
and  a  deed  to  this  effect  was  drawn  up.  The  Jews 
of  Segovia  assembled  three  days  before  their  exodus 
around  the  graves  of  their  forefathers,  mingling 
their  tears  with  the  dust,  and  melting  the  hearts  of 
the  Catholics  with  their  grief.  They  tore  up  many 
of  the  tombstones  to  bear  them  away  as  memorial 
relics,  or  gave  them  to  the  Moors. 

At  last  the  day  arrived  on  which  the  Spanish  Jews 
had  to  take  staff  in  hand.  They  had  been  accorded 
two  days  respite,  that  is,  were  allowed  two  days 
later  than  July  31st  for  setting  forth.  This  date 
fell  exactly  upon  the  anniversary  of  the  ninth  of  Ab, 
which  was  fraught  with  memories  of  the  splendor  of 
the  old  days,  and  had  so  often  found  the  children  of 
Israel  wrapped  in  grief  and  misery.  About  300,000 
left  the  land  which  they  so  deeply  loved,  but  which 
now  became  a  hateful  memory  to  them.  They 
wandered  partly  northwards,  to  the  neighboring 
kingdom  of  Navarre,  partly  southwards,  with  the 
idea  of  settling  in  Africa,  Italy  or  Turkey.  The 
majority,  however,  made  for  Portugal.  In  order  to 
stifle  sad  thoughts  and  avoid  the  melancholy  im- 
pression which  might  have  moved  some  to  waver 
and  embrace  the  cross  in  order  to  remain  in  the 


land,  some  rabbis  caused  pipers  and  drummers  to 
go  before,  making  lively  music,  so  that  for  a  while 
the  wanderers  should  forget  their  gnawing  grief. 
Spain  lost  in  them  the  twentieth  part  of  her  most 
industrious,  painstaking,  intelligent  inhabitants,  its 
middle  class,  which  created  trade,  and  maintained  it 
in  brisk  circulation,  like  the  blood  of  a  living  organ- 
ism. For  there  were  among  the  Spanish  Jews  not 
merely  capitalists,  merchants,  farmers,  physicians 
and  men  of  learning,  but  also  artisans,  armor  and 
metal  workers  of  all  kinds,  at  all  events  no  idlers 
who  slept  away  their  time.  With  the  discovery  of 
America,  the  Jews  might  have  lifted  Spain  to  the 
rank  of  the  wealthiest,  the  most  prosperous  and 
enduring  of  states,  which  by  reason  of  its  unity  of 
government  might  certainly  have  competed  with 
Italy.  But  Torquemada  would  not  have  it  so  ;  he 
preferred  to  train  Spaniards  for  a  blood-stained 
idolatr)',  under  which,  in  the  sunlight  of  the  Lutheran 
Reformation,  pious  men  were  condemned  to  chains, 
dungeons,  or  the  galleys,  if  they  dared  read  the 
Bible.  The  departure  of  the  Jews  from  Spain  soon 
made  itself  felt  in  a  very  marked  manner  by  the 
Christians.  Talent,  activity,  and  prosperous  civil- 
ization passed  with  them  from  the  country.  The 
smaller  towns,  which  had  derived  some  vitality  from 
the  presenc£_o£the  Jews,  were  quickly  depopulated, 
sank  into  insignificance,  lost  their  spirit  of  freedom 
and  independence,  and  became  tools  for  the  increas- 
ing despotism  ofjhe  Spanish  kings  and  the  imbecile 
superstition  of  the  priests.  The  Spanish  nobility 
soon  complained  that  their  towns  and  villages  had 
fallen  into  insignificance,  had  become  deserted,  and 
they  declared  that,  could  they  have  foreseen  the 
consequences,  they  would  have  opposed  the  royal 
commands.  Dearth  of  physicians  was  sternly  felt, 
too.  The  town  of  Vitoria  and  its  neighborhood 
was  compelled,  through  the  withdrawal  of  the  Jews, 
to  secure  a  physician  from  a  distance,  and  give  him 

354  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

a  high  salary.  In  many  places  the  people  fell  vic- 
tims to  quacks,  boastful  bunglers,  or  to  the  supersti- 
tion of  deceiving  or  self-deceived  dealers  in  magic. 
In  one  word,  Spain  fell  into  a  condition  of  barbar- 
ism through  the  banishment  of  the  Jews,  and  all  the 
wealth  which  the  settlement  of  American  colonies 
brought  to  the  mother  country  only  helped  to  render 
its  inhabitants  more  idle,  stupid,  and  servile.  The 
name  of  the  Jews  died  out  of  the  country  in  which 
they  had  played  so  important  a  part,  and  the  litera- 
ture of  which  was  so  filled  with  Jewish  elements 
that  men  of  intelligence  were  constantly  reminded 
of  them.  Schools,  hospitals,  and  everything  which 
the  Jews  could  not  or  dared  not  take  away  with 
them,  the  king  confiscated.  He  changed  synagogues 
into  churches,  monasteries  or  schools,  where  the 
people  were  systematically  kept  ignorant,  and 
trained  for  meanest  servility.  The  beautiful  syna- 
gogue of  Toledo,  which  Don  Pedro's  Jewish  states- 
man, Samuel  Abulafia,  had  erected  about  a  century 
and  a  half  before,  was  transformed  into  a  church  (de 
neustra  Senora  de  San  Benito),  and,  with  its  Moor- 
ish architecture,  its  exquisite  columns,  and  splendid 
proportions,  is  to  this  day  a  magnificent  ornament 
to  the  city.  In  the  other  cities  and  towns  of  Spain, 
which  live  in  the  chronicles  of  Jewish  history,  in 
Seville,  Granada,  Cordova,  in  densely-populated 
Lucena,  Saragossa  and  Barcelona,  every  trace  was 
lost  of  the  sons  of  Jacob,  or  of  the  Jewish  nobility, 
as  the  proud  Jews  of  Spain  styled  themselves. 
Jews,  it  is  true,  remained  behind,  Jews  under  the 
mask  of  Christianity,  Jewish  Christians,  or  new- 
Christians,  who  had  afforded  their  departing  brethren 
active  help.  Many  of  them  had  taken  charge  of 
their  gold  and  silver,  and  kept  it  till  they  were  able 
to  send  it  on  by  the  hands  of  trusted  persons,  or 
had  given  them  bills  of  exchange  on  foreign  places. 
These  negotiations  were  often  of  no  avail,  for  when 
the  fanatical  king  and  queen  heard  of  them,  they 


sent  for  the  treasure  left  behind,  or  sought  to  pre- 
vent the  payment  of  the  checks. 

Great  as  were  the  obstacles,  the  Marranos  did 
not  cool  in  their  zeal  for  their  exiled  brethren. 
They  pursued  those  guilty  of  inhuman  brutality  to 
the  wanderers  with  bitter  hatred,  and  delivered 
them  over  to  the  Inquisition — turning  the  tool 
against  its  makers.  At  the  instigation  of  the  Mar- 
ranos, the  brother  of  Don  Juan  de  Lucena,  tlie 
powerful  minister  of  Ferdinand,  was  thrown  into  the 
prison  of  the  Inquisition,  kept  there  under  a  strong 
guard,  and  none  of  his  relatives  allowed  to  see  him, 
the  minister,  whose  position  exempted  him  from  the 
power  of  the  Inquisition,  having  counseled  the  ban- 
ishment of  the  Jews,  and  practically  assisted  in  it, 
and  his  brother  having  relentlessly  confiscated  the 
property  they  had  left  behind.  Torquemada  com- 
plained that  Don  Juan  was  persecuted  by  the  new- 
Christians  on  account  of  his  faith.  The  Marranos, 
now  more  than  ever  on  their  guard,  lest  they  give 
the  slightest  offense,  had  to  cross  themselves  assidu- 
ously, count  their  beads,  and  mumble  paternosters, 
while  inwardly  they  were  attached  more  than  ever 
to  Judaism.  Frequently  their  feelings  outran  their 
will,  they  broke  the  bonds  of  silence,  and  this  was 
productive  of  heavy  consequences.  Thus  a  Mar- 
rano  in  Seville,  on  seeing  an  effigy  of  Christ  set  up 
in  church  for  adoration,  cried  out,  "  Woe  to  him  who 
sees,  and  must  believe  such  a  thing!"  Such  ex- 
pressions in  unguarded  moments  naturally  afforded 
the  best  opportunity  for  inquiry,  imprisonment,  the 
rack  and  autos-da-fe,  not  merely  for  the  individual 
caught  in  the  act,  but  for  his  relatives,  friends,  and 
everybody  connected  with  him  who  had  any  prop- 
erty. It  had,  moreover,  grown  to  be  a  necessity  to 
the  people,  hardened  by  the  frequent  sight  of  the 
death  agonies  of  sacrificial  victims,  to  witness  a 
solemn  tragedy  of  human  sacrifice  now  and  again. 
It  is,  therefore,  not  astonishing,  that  under  the  first 

356  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI. 

inquisitor-general,  Thomas  de  Torquemada,  in  the 
course  of  fourteen  years  (1485 — 1498)  at  least  two 
thousand  Jews  were  burned  as  impenitent  sinners. 
He  was  so  hated  that  he  lived  in  constant  fear  of 
death.  Upon  his  table  he  kept  the  horn  of  a  uni- 
corn, to  which  the  superstition  of  the  time  ascribed 
the  power  of  nullifying  the  effect  of  poison.  When 
Torquemada  went  out,  he  was  attended  by  a  body- 
guard (Familares)  of  fifty,  and  two  hundred  foot-sol- 
diers, to  protect  him  from  assault.  His  successor,  the 
second  inquisitor-general,  Deza,  erected  still  more 
scaffolds  ;  but  it  soon  came  to  pass  that  the  men  of 
blood  butchered  each  other.  Deza  before  his  death 
was  accused  of  being  secretly  a  Jew.  When  the 
persecutions  against  the  remaining  Moors  and  Mo- 
riscos,  and  against  the  followers  of  the  German 
reformer  Luther,  were  added  to  those  of  the  Mar- 
ranos,  Spain,  under  the  wrath  of  the  Holy  Inquisi- 
tion, became  literally  a  scene  of  human  slaughter. 
With  justice  nearly  all  the  European  princes,  and 
even  the  parliament  of  Paris,  bitterly  blamed  the 
perverseness  of  Ferdinand  and  Isabella  in  having 
driven  out  so  useful  a  class  of  citizens.  The  sultan 
Bajasid  (Bajazet)  exclaimed:  "You  call  Ferdinand 
a  wise  king,  he  who  has  made  his  country  poor  and 
enriched  ours ! " 



The  Exiles  from  Navarre — Migration  to  Naples — King  Ferdinand  I  of 
Naples  and  Abrabanel — Leon  Abrabanel — Misfortunes  of  the 
Jews  in  Fez,  Genoa,  Rome,  and  the  Islands  of  Greece — The 
Sultan  Bajazet — Moses  Kapsali — Spanish  Jews  in  Portugal — 
The  Jewish  Astronomers,  Abraham  Zacuto  and  Jos6  Vecinho — 
The  Jewish  Travelers,  Abraham  de  Beya  and  Joseph  Zapateiro — 
Outbreak  of  the  Plague  among  the  Spanish  Jews  in  Portugal — 
Sufferings  of  the  Portuguese  Exiles — Judah  Chayyat  and  his 
Fellow-Sufferers — Cruelty  of  Joao  II — Kindly  Treatment  by 
Manoel  changed  into  Cruelty  on  his  Marriage — Forcible  Bap- 
tism of  Jewish  Children — Levi  ben  Chabib  and  Isaac  Caro — 
Pope  Alexander  VI — Manoel's  Efforts  on  Behalf  of  the  Portuguese 
Marranos — Death  of  Simon  Maimi  and  Abraham  Saba. 

1492 — 1498  C.E. 

The  Jews  of  northern  Spain,  in  Catalonia  and 
Aragon,  who  turned  their  steps  to  neighboring  Na- 
varre, with  the  idea  of  seeking  shelter  there,  were 
comparatively  fortunate.  Here  at  least  was  a  pros- 
pect of  a  livelihood,  and  a  possibility  of  looking 
round  for  other  places  of  refuge.  The  Inquisition 
had  met  with  courageous  resistance  from  the  rulers 
and  the  people  of  Navarre.  When  some  Marranos, 
concerned  in  the  murder  of  Arbues,  the  inquisitor, 
fled  to  this  kingdom,  and  the  bloodthirsty  heresy- 
mongers  demanded  that  they  be  given  up  to  the 
executioners,  the  town  of  Tudela  declared  that  it 
would  not  suffer  such  unrighteous  violence  to  peo- 
ple who  had  sought  its  protection,  and  closed  the 
gates  against  their  emissaries.  In  vain  did  king  Fer- 
dinand, who  had  an  eye  upon  Navarre,  threaten  it 
with  his  anger.  The  citizens  of  Tudela  remained 
firm.  A  Navarrese  prince,  Jacob  of  Navarre,  suf- 
fered for  the  shelter  he  gave  to  a  hunted  Marrano. 
The  inquisitors  suddenly  arrested,  imprisoned  and 
sentenced  him,  as  an  enemy  of  the    Holy  Office, 



to  shameful  exposure  in  a  church,  where  his  list  of 
offenses  was  publicly  read  out,  and  absolution 
promised  him  only  if  he  submitted  to  flagellation 
from  priestly  hands.  Several  other  towns  of  Na- 
varre gave  protection  to  the  fugitives,  and  about 
12,000  Castilian  wanderers  took  up  their  quarters  in 
Navarre.  Count  of  Lerin  probably  received  the 
greater  number  of  these.  But  the  Jews  enjoyed 
only  a  few  years  of  peace  in  Navarre;  for  upon  the 
vehement  urging  of  King  Ferdinand,  who  followed 
the  fugitives  with  bitterest  enmity  and  persecution, 
the  king  of  Navarre  gave  them  the  choice  between 
wandering  forth  again  and  baptism.  The  greater 
number  adopted  Christianity,  because  there  was 
only  a  short  time  for  preparation,  and  no  time  for 
thinking.  In  the  community  of  Tudela,  so  famous 
for  steadfast  piety,  180  families  submitted  to  bap- 

Also  those  Castilian  Jews  were  fortunate  who,  in- 
stead of  indulging  themselves  in  the  vain  hope  that 
the  edict  would  be  recalled,  did  not  stay  until  the 
last  day,  but  made  their  way,  before  the  end  of  the 
respite,  to  Italy,  Africa,  or  Turkey.  They  did  not 
lack  the  means  of  getting  away.  The  Spanish  Jews 
had  such  widespread  repute,  and  their  expulsion 
had  made  so  much  stir  in  Europe,  that  crowds  of 
ships  were  ready  in  Spanish  seaports  to  take  up  the 
wanderers  and  convey  them  to  all  parts,  not  only 
the  ships  of  the  country,  but  also  Italian  vessels 
from  Genoa  and  Venice.  The  ship-owners  saw  a 
prospect  of  lucrative  business.  Many  Jews  from 
Aragon,  Catalonia  and  Valencia  desired  to  settle  in 
Naples,  and  sent  ambassadors  to  the  king,  Ferdi- 
nand I,  to  ask  him  to  receive  them.  This  prince 
was  not  merely  free  from  prejudice  against  the 
Jews,  but  was  kindly  inclined  towards  them,  out  of 
compassion  for  their  misfortunes,  and  he  may  have 
promised  himself  industrial  and  intellectual  advan- 
tage  from   this  immigration  of  the  Spanish  Jews. 


Whether  it  was  calculation  or  generosity,  it  is 
enough  that  he  bade  them  welcome,  and  made  his 
realm  free  to  them.  Many  thousands  of  them  landed 
in  the  Bay  of  Naples  (24th  August,  1492),  and  were 
kindly  received.  The  native  Jewish  community 
treated  them  with  true  brotherly  generosity,  de- 
frayed the  passage  of  the  poor  not  able  to  pay,  and 
provided  for  their  immediate  necessities. 

Isaac  Abrabanel,  also,  and  his  whole  household, 
went  to  Naples.  Here  he  lived  at  first  as  a  private 
individual,  and  continued  the  work  of  writing  a  com- 
mentary upon  the  book  of  Kings,  which  had  been 
interrupted  by  his  state  duties.  When  the  king  of 
Naples  was  informed  of  his  presence  in  the  city,  he 
invited  him  to  an  interview,  and  intrusted  him  with 
a  post,  in  all  likelihood  in  the  financial  department. 
Probably  he  hoped  to  make  use  of  Abrabanel's  ex- 
perience in  the  war  with  which  he  was  threatened  by 
the  king  of  France.  Whether  from  his  own  noble 
impulses,  or  from  esteem  for  Abrabanel,  the  king 
of  Naples  showed  the  Jews  a  gentle  humanity  which 
startlingly  contrasted  with  the  cruelty  of  the  Spanish 
king.  The  unhappy  people  had  to  struggle  with 
many  woes ;  when  they  thought  themselves  free  of 
one,  another  yet  more  merciless  fell  upon  them.  A 
devastating  pestilence,  arising  out  of  the  sad  condi- 
tion to  which  they  had  been  reduced,  or  from  the 
overcrowding  of  the  ships,  followed  in  the  track  of 
the  wanderers.  They  brought  death  with  them. 
Scarcely  six  months  had  they  been  settled  on  Nea- 
politan soil  when  the  pestilence  carried  numbers 
of  them  off,  and  King  Ferdinand,  who  dreaded  a 
rising  of  the  populace  against  the  Jews,  hinted  to 
them  that  they  must  bury  their  corpses  by  night, 
and  in  silence.  When  the  pest  could  no  longer  be 
concealed,  and  every  day  increased  in  virulence, 
people  and  courtiers  alike  entreated  him  to  drive 
them  forth.  But  Ferdinand  would  not  assent 
to   this   inhuman  proceeding;    he   is  said  to  have 

360  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  XI 1. 

threatened  to  abdicate  if  the  Jews  were  ill-treated. 
He  had  hospitals  erected  for  them  outside  the 
town,  sent  physicians  to  their  aid,  and  gave  them 
means  of  support.  For  a  whole  year  he  strove, 
with  unexampled  nobility,  to  succor  the  unfortunate 
people,  whom  banishment  and  disease  had  trans- 
formed into  living  corpses.  Those,  also,  who  were 
fortunate  enough  to  reach  Pisa  found  a  brotherly 
reception.  The  sons  of  Yechiel  of  Pisa  fairly  took 
up  their  abode  on  the  quay,  so  as  to  be  ready  to 
receive  the  wanderers,  provide  for  their  wants, 
shelter  them,  or  help  them  on  their  way  to  some 
other  place.  After  Ferdinand's  death,  his  son, 
Alfonso  II,  who  little  resembled  him,  retained  the 
Jewish  statesman,  Abrabanel,  in  his  service,  and, 
after  his  resignation  in  favor  of  his  son,  took  him 
with  him  to  Sicily.  Abrabanel  to  the  last  remained 
faithful  to  this  prince  in  his  misfortunes  (January, 
1494,  to  June,  1495). 

After  the  conquest  of  Naples  by  the  weak-headed 
knight-errant  king  of  France,  Charles  VIII,  the 
members  of  the  Abrabanel  family  were  torn  apart 
and  scattered.  None  of  them,  however,  met  with 
such  signal  misfortune  as  the  eldest  son,  Judah 
Leon  Medigo  (born  1470,  died  1530).  He  had 
been  so  well  beloved  at  the  Spanish  court  that  they 
were  loath  to  part  with  him,  and  would  gladly  have 
kept  him  there — of  course,  as  a  Christian.  To 
attain  this  end,  a  command  was  issued  that  he  be 
not  permitted  to  leave  Toledo,  or  that  his  one-year- 
old  son  be  taken  from  him,  baptized  immediately, 
and  that  in  this  manner  the  father  be  chained  to 
Spain.  Judah  Abrabanel,  however,  got  wind  of 
this  plot  against  his  liberty,  sent  his  son,  with  his 
nurse,  "like  stolen  goods,"  secretly  to  the  Portu- 
guese coast;  but  as  he  himself  did  not  care  to  seek 
shelter  in  the  country  where  his  father  had  been 
threatened  with  death,  he  turned  his  face  towards 
Naples.     His  suspicions  of  the  king  of  Portugal 


were  only  too  speedily  justified.  No  sooner  did 
Joao  hear  that  a  relative  of  Abrabanel  was  within 
his  borders  than  he  ordered  the  child  to  be  kept  as 
hostage,  and  not  to  be  permitted  to  go  forth  with  the 
other  Jews.  Little  Isaac  never  saw  his  parents  and 
grandparents  again.  He  was  baptized,  and  brought 
up  as  a  Christian.  The  agony  of  the  father  at  the 
living  death  of  his  lost  child  was  boundless.  It 
gave  him  no  rest  or  peace  to  his  latest  hour,  and  it 
found  vent  in  a  lamentation  sad  in  the  extreme.  Yet 
what  was  the  grief  for  one  child,  compared  with  the 
woes  which  overtook  the  thousands  of  Jews  hunted 
out  of  Spain  ? 

Many  of  them  found  their  way  to  the  nearest 
African  seaport  towns,  Oran,  Algiers  and  Bugia. 
The  inhabitants,  who  feared  that  their  towns  would 
be  overcrowded  from  such  a  vast  influx,  shot  at  the 
Jews  as  they  landed,  and  killed  many  of  them.  An 
eminent  Jew  at  the  court  of  Barbary,  however, 
addressed  the  sultan  in  behalf  of  his  unhappy 
brethren,  and  obtained  leave  for  them  to  land.  They 
were  not  allowed  to  enter  the  towns,  probably 
because  the  pestilence  had  broken  out  among  them, 
too.  They  could  only  build  themselves  wooden 
huts  outside  the  walls.  The  children  collected 
wood,  and  their  elders  nailed  the  boards  together 
for  temporary  dwellings.  But  they  did  not  long 
enjoy  even  this  miserable  shelter,  as  one  day  a  fire 
broke  out  in  one  of  the  huts,  and  soon  laid  the 
whole  camp  in  ashes. 

Those  who  settled  in  Fez  suffered  a  still  more 
terrible  lot.  Here  also  the  inhabitants  would  not 
admit  them,  fearing  that  such  an  influx  of  human 
beings  would  raise  the  price  of  the  necessaries  of 
life.  They  had  to  encamp  in  the  fields,  and  live  on 
roots  and  herbs  like  cattle.  On  the  Sabbath  they 
stripped  the  plants  with  their  teeth,  in  order  not  to 
desecrate  the  holyday  by  gathering  them.  Starvation, 
pestilence,  and  the  unfriendliness  of  the  Mahometan 


people  vied  with  each  other  in  inflicting  misery  upon 
the  Jews.  In  their  awful  despair,  fathers  were 
driven  to  sell  their  children  as  slaves  to  obtain 
bread.  Mothers  killed  their  little  ones  that  they 
might  not  see  them  perish  from  the  pangs  of 
hunger.  Avaricious  captains  took  advantage  of  the 
distress  of  the  parents  to  entice  starving  children  on 
board  their  vessels  with  offers  of  bread,  and,  deaf  to 
the  cries  and  entreaties  of  the  parents,  carried  them 
off  to  distant  lands,  where  they  sold  them  for  a  good 
price.  Later,  the  ruler  of  Fez,  probably  at  the  rep- 
resentation of  the  original  Jewish  inhabitants,  pro- 
claimed that  Jewish  children  who  had  been  sold  for 
bread,  and  other  necessaries  of  life,  should  be  set  at 

The  descriptions  by  their  contemporaries  of  the 
sufferings  of  the  Jews  make  one's  hair  stand  on 
end.  They  were  dogged  whithersoever  they  went. 
Those  whom  plague  and  starvation  had  spared,  fell 
into  the  hands  of  brutalized  men.  The  report  got 
about  that  the  Spanish  Jews  had  swallowed  the  gold 
and  silver  which  they  had  been  forbidden  to  carry 
away,  intending  to  use  it  later  on.  Cannibals,  there- 
fore, ripped  open  their  bodies  to  seek  for  coin  in 
their  entrails.  The  Genoese  ship-folk  behaved  most 
inhumanly  to  the  wanderers  who  had  trusted  their 
lives  to  them.  From  avarice,  or  sheer  delight  in 
the  death  agonies  of  the  Jews,  they  flung  many  of 
them  into  the  sea.  One  captain  offered  insult  to 
the  beautiful  daughter  of  a  Jewish  wanderer.  Her 
name  was  Paloma  (Dove),  and  to  escape  shame,  the 
mother  threw  her  and  her  other  daughters  and 
then  herself  into  the  waves.  The  wretched  father 
composed  a  heartbreaking  lamentation  for  his  lost 
dear  ones. 

Those  who  reached  the  port  of  Genoa  had  to 
contend  with  new  miseries.  In  this  thriving  town 
there  was  a  law  that  Jews  might  not  remain  there 
for  longer  than  three  days.     As  the  ships  which 

CH.  XII.  IN   GENOA   AND    ROME,  ^6$ 

were  to  convey  the  Jews  thence  required  repairing, 
the  authorities  conceded  the  permission  for  them  to 
remain,  not  in  the  town,  but  upon  the  Mole,  until 
the  vessels  were  ready  for  sea.  Like  ghosts,  pale, 
shrunken,  hollow-eyed,  gaunt,  they  went  on  shore, 
and  if  they  had  not  moved,  impelled  by  instinct  to 
get  out  of  their  floating  prison,  they  might  have 
been  taken  for  so  many  corpses.  The  starving 
children  went  into  the  churches,  and  allowed  them- 
selves to  be  baptized  for  a  morsel  of  bread  ;  and 
Christians  were  merciless  enough  not  merely  to 
accept  such  sacrifices,  but  with  the  cross  in  one 
hand,  and  bread  in  the  other,  to  go  among  the  Jews 
and  tempt  them  to  become  converted.  Only  a 
short  time  had  been  granted  them  on  the  Mole,  but 
a  great  part  of  the  winter  passed  before  the  repairs 
were  completed.  The  longer  they  remained,  the 
more  their  numbers  diminished,  through  the  passing 
over  to  Christianity  of  the  younger  members,  and 
many  fell  victims  to  plagues  of  all  kinds.  Other 
Italian  towns  would  not  allow  them  to  land  even  for 
a  short  time,  partly  because  it  was  a  year  of  famine, 
partly  because  the  Jews  brought  the  plague  with 

The  survivors  from  Genoa  who  reached  Rome 
underwent  still  more  bitter  experiences  ;  their  own 
people  leagued  against  them,  refusing  to  allow  them 
to  enter,  from  fear  that  the  influx  of  new  settlers 
would  damage  their  trade.  They  got  togedier 
i,ooo  ducats,  to  present  to  the  notorious  monster. 
Pope  Alexander  VI,  as  a  bribe  to  refuse  to  allow 
the  Jews  to  enter.  This  prince,  himself  unfeeling 
enough,  was  so  enraged  at  the  heartlessness  of 
these  men  against  their  own  people,  that  he  ordered 
every  Roman  Jew  out  of  the  city.  It  cost  the 
Roman  congregation  2,000  ducats  to  obtain  the 
revocation  of  this  edict,  and  they  had  to  take  in  the 
refugees  besides. 

The  Greek  islands  of  Corfu,  Candia,  and  others 

364  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  XIl. 

became  filled  with  Spanish  Jews ;  some  had  dragged 
themselves  thither,  others  had  been  sold  as  slaves 
there.  The  majority  of  the  Jewish  communities 
had  great  compassion  for  them,  and  strove  to  care 
for  them,  or  at  all  events  to  ransom  them.  They 
made  great  efforts  to  collect  funds,  and  sold  the 
ornaments  of  the  synagogues,  so  that  their  brethren 
might  not  starve,  or  be  subjected  to  slavery.  Per- 
sians, who  happened  to  be  on  the  island  of  Corfu, 
bought  Spanish  refugees,  in  order  to  obtain  from 
Jews  of  their  own  country  a  high  ransom  for  them. 
Elkanah  Kapsali,  a  representative  of  the  Candian 
community,  was  indefatigable  in  his  endeavors  to 
collect  money  for  the  Spanish  Jews.  The  most 
fortunate  were  those  who  reached  the  shores  of 
Turkey;  for  the  Turkish  Sultan,  Bajazet  II,  showed 
himself  to  be  not  only  a  most  humane  monarch, 
but  also  the  wisest  and  most  far-seeing.  He  under- 
stood better  than  the  Christian  princes  what  hidden 
riches  the  impoverished  Spanish  Jews  brought  with 
them,  not  in  their  bowels,  but  in  their  brains,  and 
he  wanted  to  turn  these  to  use  for  the  good  of  his 
country.  Bajazet  caused  a  command  to  go  forth 
through  the  European  provinces  of  his  dominions 
that  the  harassed  and  hunted  Jews  should  not  be 
rejected,  but  should  be  received  in  the  kindest  and 
most  friendly  manner.  He  threatened  with  death 
anyone  who  should  illtreat  or  oppress  them.  The 
chief  rabbi,  Moses  Kapsali,  was  untiringly  active  in 
protecting  the  unfortunate  Jewish  Spaniards  who  had 
come  as  beggars  or  slaves  to  Turkey.  He  traveled 
about,  and  levied  a  tax  from  the  rich  native  Jews 
"for  the  liberation  of  the  Spanish  captives."  He 
did  not  need  to  use  much  pressure  ;  for  the  Turkish 
Jews  willingly  contributed  to  the  assistance  of  the 
victims  of  Christian  fanaticism.  Thus  thousands  of 
Spanish  Jews  settled  in  Turkey,  and  before  a  gen- 
eration had  passed  they  had  taken  the  lead  among 
the  Turkish  Jews,  and  made  Turkey  a  kind  of 
Eastern  Spain. 


At  first  the  Spanish  Jews  who  went  to  Portugal 
seemed  to  have  some  chance  of  a  happy  lot.  The 
venerable  rabbi,  Isaac  Aboab,  who  had  gone  with 
a  deputation  of  thirty  to  seek  perftiission  from  King 
Joao  either  to  settle  in  or  pass  through  Portugal, 
succeeded  in  obtaining  tolerably  fair  terms.  Many 
of  the  wanderers  chose  to  remain  in  the  neighboring 
kingdom  for  a  while,  because  they  flattered  them- 
selves with  the  hope  that  their  indispensableness 
would  make  itself  evident  after  their  departure,  that 
the  eyes  of  the  now  blinded  king  and  queen  of 
Spain  would  be  opened,  and  they  would  then  re- 
ceive the  banished  people  with  open  arms.  At  the 
worst,  so  thought  the  refugees,  they  would  have 
time  in  Portugal  to  look  round,  decide  which  way  to 
go,  and  readily  find  ships  to  convey  them  in  safety 
to  Africa  or  to  Italy.  When  the  Spanish  deputies 
placed  the  proposition  before  King  JoSo  II  to  re- 
ceive the  Jews  permanently  or  temporarily  in  Por- 
tugal, the  king  consulted  his  grandees  at  Cintra. 
In  presenting  the  matter,  he  permitted  it  to  be  seen 
that  he  himself  was  desirous  of  admitting  the  exiles 
for  a  pecuniary  consideration.  Some  of  the  ad- 
visers, either  from  pity  for  the  unhappy  Jews,  or 
from  respect  for  the  king,  were  in  favor  of  granting 
permission ;  others,  and  these  the  majority,  either 
out  of  hatred  for  the  Jews,  or  a  feeling  of  honor, 
were  against  it.  The  king,  however,  overruled  all 
objections,  because  he  hoped  to  carry  on  the  con- 
templated war  with  Africa  by  means  of  the  money 
acquired  from  the  immigrants.  It  was  at  first  said 
that  the  Spanish  refugees  were  to  be  permitted  to 
settle  permanently  in  Portugal.  This  favor,  how- 
ever, the  Portuguese  Jews  themselves  looked  upon 
with  suspicion,  because  the  little  state  would  thus 
hold  a  disproportionate  number  of  Jews,  and  the 
wanderers,  most  of  them  penniless,  would  fall  a 
heavy  burden  upon  them,  so  that  the  king,  not  of 
an  amiable  disposition,  would  end  by  becoming  hos- 


tile  to  all  the  Jews  in  Portugal.  The  chief  men, 
therefore,  of  the  Jewish-Portuguese  community  met 
in  debate,  and  many  gave  utterance  to  the  cruel 
view  that  they  themselves  would  have  to  take  steps 
to  prevent  the  reception  of  the  Spanish  exiles.  A 
noble  old  man,  Joseph,  of  the  family  of  Ibn-Yachya, 
spoke  warmly  for  his  unfortunate  brethren  ;  but  his 
voice  was  silenced.  There  was  no  more  talk  of 
their  settling  in  Portugal,  but  only  of  the  permission 
to  make  a  short  stay,  in  order  to  arrange  for  their 
journey.  The  conditions  laid  down  for  the  Spanish 
Jews  were  :  Each  one,  rich  or  poor,  with  the  excep- 
tion of  babes,  was  to  pay  a  stipulated  sum  (eight 
gold-cruzados,  nearly  one  pound)  in  four  instal- 
ments ;  artisans,  however,  such  as  metal-workers 
and  smiths,  who  desired  to  settle  in  the  country, 
only  half  of  this  amount.  The  rest  were  permitted 
to  stay  only  eight  months,  but  the  king  undertook 
to  furnish  ships  at  a  reasonable  rate  for  trans- 
porting them  to  other  lands.  Those  found  in  Por- 
tugal after  the  expiration  of  this  period,  or  not  able 
to  show  a  receipt  for  the  stipulated  payment,  were 
condemned  to  servitude.  On  the  promulgation  of 
these  conditions,  a  large  number  of  Spanish  Jews 
(estimated  at  20,000  families,  or  200,000  souls) 
passed  over  the  Portuguese  borders.  The  king 
assigned  to  the  wanderers  certain  towns,  where 
they  had  to  pay  a  tax  to  the  inhabitants.  Oporto 
was  assigned  to  the  families  of  the  thirty  deputies, 
and  a  synagogue  was  built  for  them.  Isaac  Aboab, 
the  renowned  teacher  of  many  disciples,  who  later 
took  positions  as  rabbis  in  Africa,  Egypt  and  Pales- 
tine, died  peacefully  in  Oporto  ;  his  pupil,  famous 
as  a  geographer  and  astronomer,  Abraham  Zacuto, 
pronounced  his  funeral  oration  (end  of  1492).  Only 
a  few  of  his  fellow-sufferers  were  destined  to  die  a 
peaceful  death. 

The  feverish  eagerness  for  discovering  unknown 
lands  and  entering  into  trading  relations  with  them, 


which  had  seized  on  Portugal,  gave  practical  value 
to  two  sciences  which  hitherto  had  been  regarded 
as  the  hobby  or  amusement  of  idlers  and  dilettanti — 
namely,  astronomy  and  mathematics,  the  favorite 
pursuits  of  cultured  Jews  of  the  Pyrenean  Peninsula. 
If  India,  the  land  of  gold  and  spices,  upon  which 
the  minds  of  the  Portuguese  were  set  with  burning 
desire,  was  to  be  discovered,  then  coasting  journeys, 
so  slow  and  so  dangerous,  would  have  to  be  given 
up,  and  voyages  made  thither  upon  the  high  seas. 
But  the  ships  ran  the  risk  of  losing  their  way  on 
the  trackless  wastes  of  the  ocean.  Venturesome 
mariners,  therefore,  sought  astronomical  tables  to 
direct  their  way  by  the  courses  of  the  sun  and  the 
stars.  In  this  science  Spanish  Jews  had  the  mastery. 
A  Chazan  of  Toledo,  Isaac  (Zag)  Ibn-Said,  had  pub- 
lished astronomical  tables  in  the  thirteenth  century, 
known  under  the  name  of  Alfonsine  Tables,  which 
were  used  with  only  slight  alterations  by  the  scien- 
tific men  of  Germany,  France,  England  and  Italy. 
As  Joao  II  of  Portugal  now  wished  to  send  ships 
to  the  Atlantic  for  the  discovery  of  India  by  way  of 
the  African  sea-coast,  he  summoned  a  sort  of  astro- 
nomical congress  for  the  working  out  of  practical 
astronomical  tables.  At  this  congress,  together 
with  the  famous  German  astronomer,  Martin  Behaim, 
and  the  Christian  physician  of  King  Rodrigo,  there 
sat  a  Jew,  the  royal  physician,  Joseph  (Jose)  Vecinho, 
or  de  Viseu.  He  used  as  a  basis  the  perpetual 
astronomical  calendar,  or  Tables  of  the  Seven 
Planets,  which  Abraham  Zacuto,  known  later  as  a 
chronicler,  had  drawn  up  for  a  bishop  of  Salamanca, 
to  whom  he  had  dedicated  it.  Joseph  Vecinho, 
together  with  Christian  scientists,  also  improved 
upon  the  instrument  for  the  measurement  of  the 
altitude  of  the  stars,  the  nautical  astrolabe,  indis- 
pensable to  mariners.  By  its  aid  Vasco  da  Gama 
first  found  it  possible  to  follow  the  seaway  to  the 
Cape  of  Good  Hope  and  India,  and  thus,  perhaps, 

368  HISTORY   or  THE  JEWS.  CH,  XII. 

Columbus  was  enabled  to  discover  a  new  continent. 
The  geographical  knowledge  and  skill  of  two  Jews, 
Rabbi  Abraham  de  Beya  and  Joseph  Zapateiro  de 
Lamego,  were  also  turned  to  account  by  King  Joao 
II,  who  sent  them  to  Asia  to  obtain  tidings  of  his 
emissaries  to  the  mythical  land  of  Prester  John. 

Although  King  Joao  thus  employed  learned  and 
skillful  Jews  for  his  own  ends,  he  had  no  liking  for 
the  Jewish  race  :  he  was  indifferent,  or  rather  inim- 
ical, to  them  directly  they  came  in  the  way  of  his 
bigotry.  In  the  year  in  which  he  dispatched  Joseph 
Zapateiro  and  Abraham  de  Beya  to  Asia,  at  the 
instigadon  of  Pope  Innocent  VIII  he  appointed  a 
commission  of  the  Inquisition  for  the  Marranos  who 
had  fled  from  Spain  to  Portugal,  and,  like  Ferdi- 
nand and  Isabella  in  Spain,  delivered  over  those 
who  had  Jewish  leanings,  either  to  death  by  fire  or 
to  endless  imprisonment.  Some  Marranos  having 
taken  ship  to  Africa,  and  there  openly  adopted 
Judaism,  he  prohibited,  under  penalty  of  death  and 
confiscation,  baptized  Jews  or  new-Christians  from 
leaving  the  country  by  sea.  On  the  breath  of  this 
heartless  monarch  hung  the  life  or  death  of  hun- 
dreds of  thousands  of  Jewish  exiles. 

Against  those  unfortunates  in  Portugal,  not  only 
evil-minded  men,  but  nature  itself,  fought.  Soon 
after  their  arrival  in  Portugal,  a  cruel  pestilence 
began  to  rage  among  them,  destroying  tliousands. 
The  Portuguese,  who  also  suffered  from  the  plague, 
believed  that  the  Jews  had  brought  it  into  the 
country;  and,  indeed,  all  that  they  had  suffered,  the 
oppressive  heat  at  the  time  of  their  going  forth, 
want,  misery,  and  all  kinds  of  devastating  diseases, 
may  have  developed  it.  A  considerable  number  of 
the  Spanish  refugees  died  of  the  plague  in  Portugal. 
The  population  on  this  account  murmured  against 
the  king,  complaining  that  the  pestilence  had  fol- 
lowed in  the  track  of  the  accursed  Jews,  and  estab- 
lished itself  in  the  country.     Don  Joao,  therefore^ 


had  to  insist  more  strenuously  than  he  otherwise 
would  have  done  upon  the  condition  that  all  who 
had  settled  in  Portugal  should  leave  at  the  expira- 
tion of  the  eight  months.  At  first  he  put  ships 
at  their  disposal,  at  moderate  rates  of  transpor- 
tation, according  to  his  agreement,  and  bade  the 
captains  treat  their  passengers  with  humanity,  and 
convey  them  whither  they  wished  to  go.  But  these 
men,  inspired  by  Jew  hatred  and  avarice,  once  upon 
the  seas,  troubled  themselves  but  little  about  the 
king's  orders,  since  they  had  no  need  to  fear  com- 
plaints about  their  inhumanity.  They  demanded 
more  money  than  had  originally  been  bargained 
for,  and  extorted  it  from  the  helpless  creatures. 
Or,  they  carried  them  about  upon  the  waste  of 
waters  till  their  stock  of  provisions  was  exhausted, 
and  then  demanded  large  sums  for  a  fresh  supply 
of  food,  so  that  at  last  the  unfortunates  were  driven 
to  give  their  clothes  for  bread,  and  were  landed 
anywhere  in  a  nearly  naked  state.  Women  and 
young  girls  were  insulted  and  violated  in  the  pres- 
ence of  their  parents  and  relatives,  and  disgrace 
was  brought  upon  the  name  of  Christian.  Fre- 
quently these  inhuman  mariners  landed  them  in 
some  desolate  spot  of  the  African  coasts,  and  left 
them  to  perish  from  hunger  and  despair,  or  to  fall 
a  prey  to  the  Moors,  who  took  them  prisoners. 

The  sufferings  of  the  exiled  Jews  who  left  Por- 
tugal in  ships  are  related  by  an  eye-witness,  the 
Kabbalist,  Judah  ben  Jacob  Chayyat,  of  a  noble 
and  wealthy  family.  The  vessel  on  which  he,  his 
wife,  and  two  hundred  and  fifty  other  Jews,  of  both 
sexes  and  all  ages,  had  embarked,  left  the  harbor 
of  Lisbon  in  winter  (beginning  of  1493),  and  lin- 
gered four  months  upon  the  waves,  because  no  sea- 
port would  take  them  in  for  fear  of  the  plague. 
Provisions  on  board  naturally  ran  short.  The  ship 
was  captured  by  Biscayan  pirates,  plundered  and 
taken  to  the  Spanish  port  of  Malaga.     The  Jews 


were  not  permitted  to  land,  nor  to  set  sail  again, 
nor  were  provisions  given  them.  The  priests 
and  magistrates  of  the  town  desired  to  incline  them 
to  the  teaching  of  Christ  by  the  pangs  of  hunger. 
They  succeeded  in  converting  one  hundred  persons 
with  gaunt  bodies  and  hollow  eyes.  The  rest  re- 
mained steadfast  to  their  own  faith,  and  fifty  of 
them,  old  men,  youths,  maidens,  children,  among 
them  Chayyat's  wife,  died  of  starvation.  Then,  at 
last,  compassion  awoke  in  the  hearts  of  the  Mala- 
gese,  and  they  gave  them  bread  and  water.  When, 
after  two  months,  the  remainder  of  them  received 
permission  to  sail  to  the  coasts  of  Africa,  they 
encountered  bitter  sufferings  in  another  form.  On 
account  of  the  plague  they  were  not  permitted  to 
land  at  any  town,  and  had  to  depend  upon  the 
herbs  of  the  field.  Chayyat  himself  was  seized,  and 
flung  by  a  malicious  Mahometan  into  a  horrible  dun- 
geon full  of  snakes  and  salamanders,  in  order  to 
force  him  to  adopt  Islamism;  in  case  of  refusal,  he 
was  threatened  with  death  by  stoning.  These  con- 
tinuous, grinding  cruelties  did  not  make  him  waver 
one  instant  in  his  religious  convictions.  At  last  he 
was  liberated  by  the  Jews  of  a  little  town,  and  carried 
to  Fez.  There  so  severe  a  famine  raged  that  Chay- 
yat was  compelled  to  turn  a  mill  with  his  hands  for  a 
piece  of  bread,  not  fit  for  a  dog.  At  night  he  and 
his  companions  in  misery  who  had  strayed  to  Fez 
slept  upon  the  ash-heaps  of  the  town. 

Carefully  as  the  Portuguese  mariners  strove  to 
conceal  their  barbarities  to  the  Jews,  their  deeds 
soon  came  to  light,  and  frightened  off  those  who 
remained  behind  from  emigrating  by  sea.  The  poor 
creatures,  moreover,  were  unable  to  raise  the  neces- 
sary money  for  their  passage  and  provisions.  They, 
therefore,  put  off  going  from  day  to  day,  comforting 
themselves  with  the  hope  that  the  king  would  be 
merciful,  and  allow  them  to  remain  in  Portugal. 
Don  Joao,  however,  was  not  a  monarch  whose  heart 

CH.  XII.      JEWISH    CHILDREN   SENT   TO    SAN    THOMAS.  37 1 

was  warmed  by  kindness  and  compassion.  He  main- 
tained that  more  Jews  had  come  into  Portugal  than 
had  been  stipulated  for,  and  insisted,  therefore,  that 
the  agreement  be  strictly  carried  out.  Those  who 
remained  after  the  expiration  of  eight  months  were 
made  slaves,  and  sold  or  given  to  those  of  the  Por- 
tuguese nobility  who  cared  to  take  their  pick  from 

them  (1493)- 

King  Joao  went  still  further  in  his  cruel  dealings 
with  the  unhappy  Spanish  Jews.  The  children  of 
from  three  to  ten  years  of  age  whose  parents  had 
become  slaves,  he  ordered  to  be  transported  by  sea 
to  the  newly-discovered  San  Thomas  or  Lost  Islands 
(Ilhas  perdidas),  there  to  be  reared  in  the  tenets  of 
Christianity.  The  weeping  of  the  mothers,  the  sob- 
bing of  the  children,  the  rage  of  the  fathers,  who  tore 
their  hair  in  agony,  did  not  move  the  heartless  des- 
pot to  recall  his  command.  Mothers  entreated  to 
be  allowed  to  go  with  their  children,  threw  them- 
selves at  the  kinor's  feet  as  he  came  out  of  church, 
and  implored  him  to  leave  them  at  least  the  young- 
est. Don  Joao  had  them  dragged  from  his  path 
"like  bitches  who  had  their  whelps  torn  from  them." 
Is  it  to  be  wondered  at  that  mothers,  with  their  chil- 
dren in  their  arms,  sprang  into  the  sea  to  rest  united 
in  its  depths?  The  Islands  of  San  Thomas,  whither 
the  little  ones  were  taken,  were  full  of  lizards  and 
venomous  snakes,  and  inhabited  by  criminals  trans- 
ported thither  from  Portugal.  Most  of  the  children 
perished  on  the  journey,  or  became  the  prey  of  wild 
beasts.  Among  the  survivors  it  happened  that 
brothers  and  sisters,  in  ignorance  of  their  relation- 
ship, married  each  other.  Perhaps  the  king's  barbar- 
ity to  the  Jews  must  be  accounted  for  by  the  bitter 
gloom  which  mastered  him  at  the  death  of  his  only 
legitimate  son. 

After  the  death  of  Joao  II,  who  sank  in  wretched- 
ness into  his  grave  (end  of  October,  1495),  he  was 
succeeded  by  his  cousin  Manoel,  a  great  contrast  in 

372  HISTORY    OF    THE   JEWS.  CH.  XH. 

disposition  to  himself — an  intelligent,  amiable,  gentle- 
minded  man,  and  a  lover  of  learning.  There  seemed 
some  prospect  of  a  better  star's  rising  upon  the  rem- 
nant of  the  banished  Jews  in  Portugal.  King  Ma- 
noel,  finding  that  the  Jews  had  remained  in  his  king- 
dom beyond  the  allotted  time  only  from  fear  of  many 
forms  of  death  upon  the  ocean,  gave  all  the  slaves 
their  freedom.  The  money  which,  beside  themselves 
with  joy,  they  offered  him  for  this,  he  refused.  It  is 
true  that  his  ulterior  motive,  as  Bishop  Osorius  tells 
us,  was  to  win  them  over  to  Christianity  by  clemency. 
The  Jewish  mathematician  and  astronomer,  Abraham 
Zacuto,  who  had  remained  in  Lisbon,  having  come 
thither  from  northern  Spain,  where  he  had  taught 
his  favorite  science  even  to  Christians,  was  made 
chief  astrologer  Zacuto  served  the  king  not  merely 
in  the  latter  capacity.  Although  a  man  of  limited 
understanding,  unable  to  rise  above  the  superstition 
of  his  day,  he  had  sound  knowledge  of  astronomy, 
and  published  a  work  upon  that  science,  besides 
preparing  his  astronomical  tables.  He  also  invented 
a  correct  metal  instrument  for  measuring  the  altitude 
of  the  stars,  to  replace  the  clumsy  and  inaccurate 
wooden  one  used  hitherto  by  mariners. 

Under  King  Manoel,  in  whose  reign  Portugal's 
domains  were  enlarged  by  acquisitions  in  India  and 
America,  the  Jews  were  able  to  breathe  awhile.  It 
appears  that  soon  after  ascending  the  throne  he 
issued  a  command  that  the  accusations  against  them 
for  murdering  children  should  not  be  recognized  by 
courts  of  justice,  since  they  were  malicious,  lying  in- 
ventions. Nor  would  he  allow  the  fanatical  preach- 
ing friars  to  utter  denunciations  against  them. 

Very  short,  however,  was  the  gleam  of  happiness 
for  the  Jews  under  Manoel :  the  somber  bigotry  of 
the  Spanish  court  changed  it  into  terrible  gloom. 
No  sooner  had  the  young  king  of  Portugal  mounted 
the  throne  than  their  majesties  of  Spain  began  to 
entertain  the  idea  of  marriage  relations  with  him  in 


order  to  turn  an  inimical  neighbor  into  a  friend  and 
ally.  They  proposed  marriage  with  their  younger 
daughter,  Joanna,  who  afterwards  became  notori- 
ous on  account  of  her  jealous  disposition  and 
her  madness.  Manoel  lent  a  willing  ear  to  the  pro- 
posal of  an  alliance  with  the  Spanish  court,  but  pre- 
ferred the  elder  sister,  Isabella  II,  who  had  been 
married  to  the  Infante  of  Portugal,  and  had  soon 
after  become  a  widow.  Isabella  had  strong  repug- 
nance to  a  second  marriage ;  buther  confessor  knew 
how  to  overrule  her  objections,  and  made  her  be- 
lieve that  if  she  consented  she  would  have  oppor- 
tunity to  glorify  the  Christian  faith.  The  Spanish 
court  had  marked  with  chagrin  and  vexation  that 
the  Portuguese  king  had  received  the  Jewish  and 
Mahometan  refugees,  and  King  Manoel's  friendly 
treatment  of  them  was  a  thorn  in  their  flesh.  Fer- 
dinand and  Isabella  thought  that  by  falling  in  with 
the  Portuguese  king's  wishes,  they  would  attain  their 
end.  They,  therefore,  promised  him  the  hand  of 
their  eldest  daughter  upon  condition  that  he  join 
with  Spain  against  Charles  VII,  and  send  the  Jews 
out  of  Portugal,  both  the  native  and  the  refugee 
Jews.  The  conditions  were  very  disagreeable  to 
King  Manoel,  who  was  on  good  terms  with  France, 
and  reaped  great  advantage  from  the  wealth,  en- 
ergy,  intelligence,  and  knowledge  of  the  Jews. 

He  consulted  with  his  lords  and  council  upon  this 
question,  fraught  with  such  importance  for  the  Jews. 
Opinions  upon  it  were  divided.  Manoel  hesitated 
for  some  time,  because  his  noble  nature  shrank  from 
such  cruelty  and  faithlessness.  The  Infanta  Isabella 
spoke  the  deciding  word.  She  entertained  fanatical, 
almost  personal  hatred  against  the  Jews.  She  be- 
lieved or  was  persuaded  by  the  priests  that  the  mis- 
fortunes and  unhappiness  which  had  befallen  King 
Joao  In  his  last  days  were  occasioned  by  his  having 
allowed  Jews  to  enter  his  kingdom  ;  and,  nour- 
ished as   she  had  been   at  the  breast  of  supersti- 

374  HISTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XII. 

tion,  she  was  afraid  of  ill-luck  in  her  union  with 
Manoel  if  Jews  were  permitted  to  remain  in  Portu- 
gal. What  dreary  lovelessness  in  the  heart  of  a 
young  woman !  Irreconcilable  strife  of  feelings 
and  thoughts  was  thus  raised  in  the  soul  of  King 
Manoel.  Honor,  the  interest  of  the  state,  human- 
ity, forebade  his  proscribing  and  expelling  the 
Jews  ;  but  the  hand  of  the  Spanish  Infanta,  and  the 
Spanish  crown  were  to  be  secured  only  by  the  mis- 
ery of  the  Jews.  Love  turned  the  balance  in  favor 
of  hate.  When  the  king  was  expecting  his  bride 
to  cross  the  borders  of  his  kingdom,  he  received  a 
letter  from  her  saying  that  she  would  not  set  foot 
in  Portugal  until  the  land  was  cleansed  of  the 
*'  curse-laden  "  Jews. 

The  marriage  contract  between  Don  Manoel  and 
the  Spanish  Infanta,  Isabella,  then,  was  sealed  with 
the  misery  of  the  Jews.  It  was  signed  on  the  30th 
of  November,  1496,  and  so  early  as  the  24th  of  the 
following  month,  the  king  caused  an  order  to  go 
forth  that  all  the  Jews  and  Moors  of  his  kingdom 
must  receive  baptism,  or  leave  the  country  within  a 
given  time,  on  pain  of  death.  In  order  to  relieve 
his  conscience,  he  showed  clemency  in  carrying  his 
edict  into  effect.  He  lengthened  the  term  of  their 
Sitay  until  the  October  of  the  following  year,  so  that 
they  had  time  for  preparation.  He  further  ap- 
pointed three  ports,  Lisbon,  Oporto,  and  Setubal, 
for  their  free  egress.  That  he  sought  to  allure  the 
Jews  to  Christianity,  by  the  prospect  of  honor  and  ad- 
vancement, was  so  entirely  due  to  the  distorted  views 
of  the  times,  that  he  cannot  be  held  responsible  for 
it;  as  it  was,  only  a  few  submitted  to  baptism. 

Precisely  Manoel's  clement  behavior  tended  to 
the  greater  misery  of  the  Jews.  Having  ample  time 
to  prepare  for  their  departure,  and  not  being  forbid- 
den to  take  gold  and  silver  with  them,  they  thought 
that  there  was  no  need  to  hurrv.  Perhaps  the  king 
would  change  his  mind.     They  had  friends  at  court 


who  were  agitating  in  their  favor.  Besides,  the  winter 
months  were  not  a  good  time  to  be  upon  the  ocean. 
The  majority,  therefore,  waited  until  spring.  In  the 
meantime  King  Manoel  certainly  did  change  his 
mind,  but  only  to  increase  their  fearful  misery.  He 
was  much  vexed  at  finding  that  so  few  Jews  had 
embraced  Christianity.  Very  unwillingly  he  saw 
them  depart  with  their  wealth  and  their  possessions, 
and  sought  ways  and  means  to  retain  them,  as 
Christians,  of  course,  in  his  own  kingdom.  The 
first  step  had  cost  him  a  struggle,  the  second  was 

He  raised  the  question  in  council  whether  the 
Jews  could  be  brought  to  baptism  by  force.  To  the 
honor  of  the  Portuguese  clergy  it  must  be  said  that 
they  expressed  themselves  as  opposed  to  this.  The 
bishop  of  Algarve,  Ferdinand  Coutinho,  cited  eccle- 
siastical authorities  and  papal  bulls  to  the  effect 
that  Jews  n\ight  not  be  compelled  to  adopt  Christi- 
anity, because  a  free,  not  a  forced,  confession  was 
required.  Manoel,  however,  was  so  bent  upon 
keeping  *.he  industrious  Jews  with  him,  that  he 
openly  declared  that  he  did  not  trouble  himself 
about  lav;s  and  authorities,  but  would  act  upon  his 
own  judgment.  From  Evora  he  issued  (beginning 
of  April,  1497)  a  secret  command  that  all  Jewish 
children,  boys  and  girls,  up  to  the  age  of  fourteen, 
should  be  taken  from  their  parents  by  force  on 
Easter  Sunday,  and  carried  to  the  church  fonts  to  be 
baptized.  He  was  advised  by  a  reprobate  convert, 
Levi  ben  Shem  Tob,  to  take  this  step.  In  spite  of 
the  secrecy  of  the  preparations,  several  Jews  found 
it  out,  and  were  about  to  flee  with  their  children 
from  the  "stain  of  baptism."  When  Manoel  heard 
it,  he  ordered  the  forced  baptism  of  children  to  be 
carried  out  at  once.  Heartrending  scenes  ensued 
in  the  towns  where  Jews  lived  when  the  sheriffs  strove 
to  carry  away  the  children.  Parents  strained  their 
dear  ones  to  their  breasts,  the  children  clung  con- 

37^  ---^HlSTORY   OF   THE  JEWS.  CH.  XII. 

vulsively  to  them,  and  they  could  be  separated  only 
by  lashes  and  blows.  In  their  despair  over  the  pos- 
sibility of  being  thus  for  ever  sundered,  many  of  them 
strangled  the  children  in  their  embraces,  or  threw 
them  into  wells  and  rivers,  and  then  laid  hands  upon 
themselves.  "  I  have  seen,"  relates  Bishop  Coutinho, 
"many  dragged  to  the  font  by  the  hair,  and  the 
fathers  clad  in  mourning,  with  veiled  heads  and  cries 
of  agony,  accompanying  their  children  to  the  altar, 
to  protest  against  the  inhuman  baptism.  I  have  seen 
still  more  horrible,  indescribable  violence  done  them." 
In  the  memory  of  his  contemporaries  lingered  the 
frightful  manner  in  which  a  noble  and  cultured  Jew, 
Isaac  Ibn-Zachin,  destroyed  himself  and  his  children, 
to  avoid  their  becoming  a  prey  to  Christianity. 
Christians  were  moved  to  pity  by  the  cries  and  tears 
of  Jewish  fathers,  mothers  and  children,  and  despite 
the  king's  commands  not  to  assist  the  Jews,  they  con- 
cealed many  of  the  unfortunates  in  their  houses,  so 
that  at  least  for  the  moment  they  might  be  safe;  but 
the  stony  hearts  of  King  Manoel  and  his  young  wife, 
the  Spanish  Isabella  II,  remained  unmoved  by  these 
sights  of  woe.  The  baptized  children,  who  received 
Christian  names,  were  placed  in  various  towns,  and 
reared  as  Christians.  Either  in  obedience  to  a 
secret  order,  or  from  excessive  zeal,  the  creatures 
of  the  king  not  only  seized  children,  but  also  youths 
and  maidens  up  to  the  age  of  twenty,  for  baptism. 
Many  Jews  of  Portugal  probably  embraced  Chris- 
tianity in  order  to  remain  with  their  children;  but 
this  did  not  satisfy  the  king,  who,  not  from  religious 
zeal,  but  from  political  motives,  had  hardened  his 
heart.  All  the  Jews  of  Portugal,  it  mattered  not 
whether  with  or  without  conviction,  were  to  become 
Christians  and  remain  in  the  country.  To  attain 
this  end,  he  violated  a  solemn  promise  more  fla- 
grantly than  his  predecessor.  When  the  time  of 
their  departure  came  closer,  he  ordered  the  Jews  to 
embark   from   one  seaport  only,  that  of  Lisbon, 


although,  at  first,  he  had  allowed  them  three  places. 
Therefore,  all  who  wished  to  go,  had  to  meet  in 
Lisbon — 20,000  souls,  it  is  said,  with  burning  grief 
in  their  hearts,  but  prepared  to  suffer  anything  to 
remain  true  to  their  convictions.  The  inhuman 
monarch  allowed  them  lodgings  in  the  city,  but  he 
placed  so  many  hindrances  in  the  way  of  their  em- 
barkation, that  time  passed  by,  and  the  day  arrived 
when  they  were  to  forfeit  life,  or  at  least  liberty,  if 
found  upon  Portuguese  soil.  He  had  all  who  re- 
mained behind  locked  in  an  enclosed  space  (os 
Estaos)  like  oxen  in  stalls,  and  informed  them  that 
they  were  now  his  slaves,  and  that  he  could  do  with 
them  as  he  thought  fit.  He  urged  them  voluntarily 
to  confess  the  Christian  faith,  in  which  case  they 
should  have  honor  and  riches ;  otherwise  they  would 
be  forced  to  baptism  w^ithout  mercy.  When,  not- 
withstanding this,  many  remained  firm,  he  forbade 
bread  or  water  to  be  given  them  for  three  days,  in 
order  to  render  them  more  pliable.  This  means  did 
not  succeed  any  better  with  the  greater  number  of 
them:  they  chose  to  faint  with  starvation  rather 
than  belong  to  a  religion  which  owned  such  followers 
as  their  persecutors.  Upon  this,  Manoel  proceeded 
to  extreme  measures.  By  cords,  by  their  hair  and 
beard,  they  were  dragged  from  their  pen  to  the 
churches.  To  escape  this  some  sprang  from  the 
windows,  and  their  limbs  were  crushed.  Others 
broke  loose  and  jumped  into  wells.  Some  killed 
themselves  in  the  churches.  One  father  spread  his 
tallith  over  his  sons,  and  killed  them  and  himself. 
Manoel's  terrible  treatment  comes  into  more  glar- 
ing prominence  when  compared  with  his  behavior  to 
the  Moors.  They,  too,  had  to  leave  Portugal,  but 
no  hindrances  were  placed  in  their  way,  because  he 
feared  that  the  Mahometan  princes  in  Africa  and 
Turkey  might  retaliate  upon  the  Christians  living  in 
their  domains.  The  Jews  had  no  earthly  protector, 
were  weak  and  helpless,  therefore,  Manoel,  whom 


historians  call  the  Great,  permitted  himself  to 
perpetrate  such  atrocities.  In  this  fashion  many 
native  Portuguese  and  refugee  Spanish  Jews  were 
led  to  embrace  Christianity,  which  they — as  their 
Christian  contemporaries  relate  with  shame — had 
openly  scorned.  Some,  at  a  later  period,  became 
distinguished  Rabbinical  authorities,  like  Levi  ben 
Chabib,  afterwards  rabbi  in  Jerusalem.  Those 
who  escaped  with  their  lives  and  their  faith  attrib- 
uted it  to  the  gracious  and  wondrous  interposition 
of  God.  Isaac  ben  Joseph  Caro,  who  had  come 
from  Toledo  to  Portugal,  there  lost  his  adult  and 
his  minor  sons  ("who  were  beautiful  as  prin- 
ces"), yet  thanked  his  Creator  for  the  mercy  that  in 
spite  of  peril  on  the  sea  he  reached  Turkey.  Abra- 
ham Zacuto,  with  his  son  Samuel,  also  was  in  dan- 
ger of  death,  although  (or  because)  he  was  King 
Manoel's  favorite,  astrologer  and  chronicler.  Both, 
however,  were  fortunate  enough  to  pass  through 
the  bitter  ordeal,  and  escape  from  Portugal,  but 
they  were  twice  imprisoned.  They  finally  settled 
in  Tunis. 

The  stir  which  the  enforced  conversion  of  the 
Jews  caused  in  Portugal  did  not  immediately  sub- 
side. Those  who  had  submitted  to  baptism  through 
fear  of  death,  or  out  of  fove  for  their  children,  did 
not  give  up  the  hope  that  by  appealing  to  the  papal 
court  they  might  be  able  to  return  to  their  own  faith, 
seeing  that,  as  all  Europe  knew,  Pope  Alexander 
VI  and  his  college  of  cardinals,  as  base  as  himself, 
would  do  anything  for  money.  A  witticism  was 
then  going  the  rounds  of  every  Christian  country : 

Vendit  Alexander  Claves,  Altaria,  Christum ; 
Emerat  ista  prius,  vendere  jure  pptest. 

Rome  was  a  market  of  shame — a  hill  of  Astarte — 
a  mart  of  unwholesomeness — but  there  the  inno 
cent,  also,  could  buy  their  rights.     The   Portuguese 
new-Christians  now  sent  a  deputation  of  seven  of 

CH.  xiL  mangel's  concessions.  379 

their  companions  in  misery  to  Pope  Alexander,  and 
they  did  not  forget  to  take  a  purse  of  gold  with  them. 
The  pope  and  the  so-called  holy  college  showed 
themselves  favorably  inclined  towards  them,  espe- 
cially Cardinal  de  Sancta  Anastasia  took  them  under 
his  patronage.  The  Spanish  ambassador,  Garcilaso, 
however,  was  instructed  by  their  Spanish  majesties 
to  oppose  them.  Despite  his  influence  the  affairs 
of  the  Portuguese  Jews  must  have  taken  a  favorable 
turn,  for  King  Manoel  decided  to  make  concessions. 
He  issued  a  mild  decree  (May  30th,  1497),  in  which 
he  granted  amnesty  to  all  forcibly  baptized  Jews, 
and  a  respite  of  twenty  years,  during  which  they 
were  not  to  be  brought  before  the  tribunal  of  the 
Inquisition  for  their  adherence  to  Judaism.  It  was 
said  that  it  was  necessary  for  them  first  to  lay  aside 
their  Jewish  habits,  and  accustom  themselves  to 
the  ways  of  the  Catholic  faith,  for  which  they  needed 
time.  Further,  the  decree  ordered  that,  on  the 
expiration  of  this  term,  a  regular  examination  should 
be  made  of  those  accused  of  Judaizing  practices, 
and  if  the  case  was  decided  against  them,  their 
goods  should  not  be  confiscated,  as  in  Spain,  but 
given  over  to  their  heirs.  Finally,  the  decree 
ordained  that  those  baptized  physicians  and  sur- 
geons who  did  not  understand  Latin  might  make 
use  of  Hebrew  books  of  reference.  Practically  this 
allowed  the  enforced  Christians  to  live  in  secret, 
without  fear  of  punishment,  as  Jews,  and  to  retain 
all  their  books.  For,  who,  in  Portugal,  in  those 
days,  could  distinguish  a  book  of  medicine  from 
any  other  work  in  the  Hebrew  language?  The 
students  of  the  Talmud  could  thus  follow  their 
favorite  researches  and  studies  under  the  mask  of 
Catholicism.  This  amnesty  benefited  the  Portuguese 
Marranos,  but  not  those  who  had  immigrated  into 
Portugal,  by  a  clause  which  Manoel  had  inserted  out 
of  deference  to  the  Spanish  court,  or,  more  particu- 
larly, to  the  Spanish  Infanta  Isabella.     For  she  in- 

380  HISTORY    OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  XII. 

sisted  that  the  Marranos  who  had  fled  out  of  Spain 
into  Portugal  should  be  delivered  over  to  the  Moloch 
of  the  Inquisition.  In  the  marriage  contract  be- 
tween the  king  of  Portugal  and  the  fanatical  Isabella 
(August,  1497),  it  was  expressly  set  down  that  all 
persons  of  the  Hebrew  race  coming  under  condem- 
nation of  the  Inquisition,  who  sought  refuge  in 
Portugal,  must  leave  within  a  month's  time. 

Thus  many  thousand  Portuguese  Jews  became 
pseudo-Christians,  but  with  the  firm  resolve  to  seize 
the  first  opportunity  to  get  away,  so  that  in  a  free 
country  they  might  openly  practice  a  religion  only 
the  dearer  to  them  for  all  they  had  suffered  for  it. 
Their  souls,  as  the  poet  Samuel  Usque  writes,  had 
not  been  stained  by  the  baptism  imposed  on  them. 
There  were  some  Jews,  however,  who  had  refused 
baptism  with  all  their  might.  Among  them  was 
Simon  Maimi,  apparendy  the  last  chief  rabbi  (Ar- 
rabi  mor)  in  Portugal,  a  scrupulously  pious  man  ; 
also  his  wife,  his  sons-in-law,  and  some  others.  They 
were  closely  imprisoned,  because  they  would  not  for- 
swear Judaism,  nor  observe  the  rites  of  the  church. 
To  bring  them  to  conversion,  Simon  Maimi  and  his 
fellow  sufferers,  official  rabbis,  were  most  inhumanly 
tortured.  They  were  immured  up  to  the  neck  in 
their  prison,  and  left  for  three  days  in  this  fearful 
position.  When  they  nevertheless  remained  firm, 
the  walls  were  torn  down ;  three  had  died,  among 
them  Simon  Maimi,  whose  conversion  was  most 
important,  because  his  example  would  have  influ- 
enced the  others.  Two  Marranos  imperiled  their 
lives  to  secure  the  corpse  of  the  pious  martyr,  that 
they  might  inter  it  in  the  Jewish  burial-ground,  al- 
though it  was  strictly  forbidden  to  bury  the  Jewish 
victims  of  Christian  sacrifice  otherwise  than  by  the 
executioner's  hands.  A  few  Marranos  secretly  at- 
tended their  deeply-lamented  saint  to  his  last  rest, 
and  celebrated  a  mourning  service  over  his  grave. 
Manoel  permitted  the  few  remaining  Jews  to  depart 


not  long  after,  probably  on  the  death  of  Isabella,  the 
instigator  of  all  his  barbarities  to  the  Jews.  She 
died  at  the  birth  of  the  heir  to  the  thrones  of  Portu- 
gal and  Spain,  August  24th,  1498,  and  the  Infante 
died  two  years  later.  One  of  the  remnant  dismissed 
was  Abraham  Saba,  a  preacher  and  Kabbalist  author, 
whose  two  children  were  baptized  by  force  and  taken 
from  him.  The  companions  of  Simon  Maimi  and 
his  sons-in-law  remained  in  prison  a  long  time,  were 
afterwards  sent  to  Arzilla,  in  Africa,  there  con- 
demned to  work  at  the  trenches  on  the  Sabbath, 
and  died  at  last  a  martyr's  death. 

Eighty  years  later,  Manoel's  great-grandson,  the 
adventurous  king,  Sebastian,  led  the  flower  of  the 
Portuguese  people  to  fresh  conquests  in  Africa.  In 
a  single  battle  the  power  of  Portugal  was  broken, 
her  nobility  slain,  or  cast  into  prison.  The  captives 
were  carried  to  Fez,  and  there,  in  the  slave-market, 
offered  for  sale  to  the  descendants  of  the  barbarously 
treated  Portuguese  Jews.  The  unhappy  Portuguese 
nobles  and  knights  were,  however,  glad  to  be  bought 
by  Jews,  as  they  well  knew  the  mild  and  humane 
nature  of  the  followers  of  the  "God  of  vengeance." 



Widespread  Consequences  of  the  Expulsion — The  Exiles — Fate  of 
the  Abrabanel  Family — Leon  Medigo — Isaac  Akrish — The  Pre- 
eminence of  Jews  of  Spanish  Origin — The  North-African  States: 
Samuel  Alvalensi,  Jacob  Berab,  Simon  Duran  II — The  Jews  of 
Algiers,  Tripoli  and  Tunis — Abraham  Zacuto,  and  Moses  Alash- 
kar — Egypt :  Isaac  Shalal,  David  Ibn-Abi  Zimra — The  Jews  of 
Cairo — Selim  I — Cessation  of  the  Office  of  Nagid — Jerusalem — 
Obadyah  di  Bertinoro — Safet  and  Joseph  Saragossi — The  Jews 
of  Turkey — Constantinople — Ehas  Mizrachi:  the  Karaites — The 
Communities  of  Salonica  and  Adrianople — The  Jews  of  Greece 
— Elias  Kapsali — The  Jews  of  Italy  and  the  Popes:  Bonet  de 
Lates — The  Ghetto  in  Venice — Samuel  Abrabanel  and  Benvenida 
Abrabanela — Abraham  Farissol- -The  Jews  of  Germany  and 
their  Sorrows — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Various  Towns — The 
Jews  of  Bohemia — ^Jacob  Polak  and  his  School — The  Jews  of 

1496 — 1525  C.E. 

The  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  the  Pyrenean  Pen- 
insula, unwise  as  it  was  inhuman,  forms  in  various 
ways  a  well-marked  turning-point  in  the  general 
history  of  the  Jewish  race.  It  involved  not  only  the 
exiles,  but  the  whole  Jewish  people,  in  far-reaching 
and  mostly  disastrous  consequences.  The  glory  of 
the  Jews  was  extinguished,  their  pride  humbled, 
their  center  displaced,  the  strong  pillar  against 
which  they  had  hitherto  leant  broken.  The  grief 
caused  by  this  sad  event  was  shared  by  the  Jews 
in  every  country  which  had  news  of  it.  They 
all  felt  as  if  the  Temple  had  been  destroyed  a 
third  time,  as  if  the  sons  of  Zion  had  a  third  time 
been  condemned  to  exile  and  misery.  Whether 
from  fancy  or  pride,  it  was  supposed  that  the  Span- 
ish (or,  more  correctly,  the  Sephardic)  Jews  were 
the  posterity  of  the  noblest  tribe,  and  included 
among  them  descendants  in  a  direct  line  from  King 


David;  hence  the  Jews  looked  upon  them  as  a  kind 
of  Jewish  nobility.  And  now  these  exalted  ones 
had  been  visited  by  the  severest  affliction  !  Exile, 
compulsory  baptism,  death  in  every  hideous  form, 
by  despair,  hunger,  pestilence,  fire,  shipwreck,  all 
torments  united,  had  reduced  their  hundreds  of 
thousands  to  barely  the  tenth  part  of  that  number. 
The  remnant  wandered  about  like  specters,  hunted 
from  one  country  to  another,  and  princes  among 
Jews,  they  were  compelled  to  knock  as  beggars  at 
the  doors  of  their  brethren.  The  thirty  millions  of 
ducats  which,  at  the  lowest  computation,  the  Spanish 
Jews  possessed  on  their  expulsion,  had  melted  away 
in  their  hands,  and  they  were  thus  left  denuded  of 
everything  in  a  hostile  world,  which  valued  the  Jews 
at  their  money's  worth  only.  At  the  same  period 
many  German  Jews  were  driven  from  cities  in  the 
East  and  in  the  West,  but  their  misery  did  not  equal 
that  of  the  Spanish  Jews.  They  had  known  neither 
the  sweetness  of  a  country  that  they  could  call  their 
own,  nor  the  comforts  of  life  ;  they  were  more  hardy, 
or,  at  least,  accustomed  to  contempt  and  harsh  treat- 

Half  a  century  after  the  banishment  of  the  Jews 
from  Spain  and  Portugal,  we  everywhere  meet  with 
fugitives:  here  a  group,  there  a  family,  or  solitary 
stragglers.  It  was  a  kind  of  exodus  on  a  small 
scale,  moving  eastwards,  chiefly  to  Turkey,  as  if  the 
Jews  were  to  approach  their  original  home.  But 
their  very  wanderings,  until  they  again  reached 
secure  dwelling-places,  and  in  a  measure  were  set- 
tled, were  heartrending  through  the  calamities  of 
every  description,  the  humiliations,  the  contumely, 
sufferings  worse  than  death,  that  they  encountered. 

The  ancient  family  of  Abrabanel  did  not  escape 
heavy  disasters  and  constant  migrations.  The  father, 
Isaac  Abrabanel,  who  had  occupied  a  high  position 
at  the  court  of  the  accomplished  king,  Ferdinand  I, 
and  of  his  son  Alfonso,  at  Naples,  was  forced,  on  the 


approach  of  the  French,  to  leave  the  city,  and,  with 
his  royal  patron,  to  seek  refuge  in  Sicily.  The 
French  hordes  plundered  his  house  of  all  its  valu- 
ables, and  destroyed  a  choice  library,  his  greatest 
treasure.  On  the  death  of  King  Alfonso,  Isaac 
Abrabanel,  for  safety,  went  to  the  island  of  Corfu. 
He  remained  there  only  till  the  French  had  evacu- 
ated the  Neapolitan  territory  ;  then  he  settled  at 
Monopoli  (Apulia),  where  he  completed  or  revised 
many  of  his  writings.  The  wealth  acquired  in  the 
service  of  the  Portuguese  and  Spanish  courts  had 
vanished,  his  wife  and  children  were  separated  from 
him  and  scattered,  and  he  passed  his  days  in  sad 
musings,  out  of  which  only  his  study  of  the  Scrip- 
tures and  the  annals  of  the  Jewish  people  could 
lift  him.  His  eldest  son,  Judah  Leon  Medigo  Abra- 
banel, resided  at  Genoa,  where,  in  spite  of  his  un- 
settled existence  and  consuming  grief  for  the  loss 
of  his  young  son,  who  had  been  taken  from  him,  and 
was  being  brought  up  in  Portugal  as  a  Christian,  he 
still  cherished  ideals.  For  Leon  Abrabanel  was 
much  more  highly  accomplished,  richer  in  thought, 
in  every  way  more  gifted  than  his  father,  and  de- 
serves consideration  not  merely  for  his  father's,  but 
for  his  own  sake.  Leon  Abrabanel  practiced  medi- 
cine to  gain  a  livelihood  (whence  his  cognomen 
Medigo) ;  but  his  favorite  pursuits  were  astronomy, 
mathematics,  and  metaphysics.  Shortly  before  the 
death  of  the  gifted  and  eccentric  Pico  de  Mirandola, 
Leon  Medigo  became  acquainted  with  him,  won  his 
friendship,  and  at  his  instigation  undertook  the 
writing  of  a  philosophical  work. 

Leon  Medigo,  in  a  remarkable  manner,  entered 
into  close  connection  with  acquaintances  of  his  youth, 
with  Spanish  grandees,  and  even  with  King  Ferdi- 
nand, who  had  driven  his  family  and  so  many  hun- 
dred thousands  into  banishment  and  death.  For  he 
became  the  private  physician  of  the  general,  Gon- 
salvo  de  Cordova,  the  conqueror  and  viceroy  of 


Naples.  The  heroic,  amiable,  and  lavish  De  Cordova 
did  not  share  his  master's  hatred  against  the  Jews. 
In  one  of  his  descendants  Jewish  literature  iound 
a  devotee.  When  King  Ferdinand,  after  the  con- 
quest of  the  kingdom  of  Naples  (1504),  commanded 
that  the  Jews  be  banished  thence,  as  from  Spain, 
the  general  thwarted  the  execution  of  the  order, 
observing  that,  on  the  whole,  there  were  but  few 
Jews  on  Neapolitan  territory,  since  most  of  the  im- 
migrants had  either  again  left  it,  or  had  become  con- 
verts to  Christianity.  The  banishment  of  these  few 
could  only  be  injurious  to  the  country,  since  they 
would  settle  at  Venice,  which  would  benefit  by  their 
industry  and  riches.  Consequently  the  Jews  were 
allowed  to  remain  a  while  longer  on  Neapolitan 
territory.  But  to  exterminate  the  Spanish  and 
Portuguese  Marranos  who  had  settled  there,  Ferdi- 
nand established  the  terrible  Inquisition  at  Bene- 
vento.  Leon  Medigo  for  over  two  years  was  De 
Cordova's  physician  (1505 — 1507),  and  King  Ferdi- 
nand saw  him  when  he  visited  Naples.  After  the 
king's  departure  and  the  ungracious  dismissal  of  the 
viceroy  (June,  1507),  Leon  Abrabanel,  having  no- 
where found  suitable  employment,  returned  to  his 
father,  then  living  at  Venice,  whither  he  had  been 
invited  by  his  second  son,  Isaac  II,  who  practiced 
medicine  first  at  Reggio  (Calabria),  then  at  Venice. 
The  youngest  son,  Samuel,  afterwards  a  generous 
protector  of  his  co-religionists,  was  the  most  fortu- 
nate of  the  family.  He  dwelt  amidst  the  cool  shades 
of  the  academy  of  Salonica,  to  which  his  father  had 
sent  him  to  finish  his  education  in  Jewish  learning. 
The  elder  Abrabanel  once  more  entered  the  political 
arena.  At  Venice  he  had  the  opportunity  of  set- 
tling a  dispute  between  the  court  of  Lisbon  and  the 
Venetian  Republic  concerning  the  East-Indian  colo- 
nies established  by  the  Portuguese,  especially  con- 
cerning the  trade  in  spices.  Some  influential  sena- 
tors discerned  Isaac  Abrabanel's  correct  political  and 


financial  judgment,  and  thenceforth  consuhed  him 
in  all  important  questions  of  state  policy.  But  suffer- 
ing and  travel  had  broken  his  strength ;  before  he 
reached  seventy  years,  he  felt  the  infirmities  of  old 
age  creeping  over  him.  In  a  letter  of  reply  to  Saul 
Cohen  Ashkenasi,  an  inhabitant  of  Candia,  a  man 
thirsting  for  knowledge,  the  disciple  and  intellectual 
heir  of  Elias  del  Medigo,  Abrabanel  complains  of 
increasing  debility  and  senility.  Had  he  been  si- 
lent, his  literary  productions  of  that  time  would  have 
betrayed  his  infirmity.  The  baited  victims  of  Spanish 
fanaticism  would  have  needed  bodies  of  steel  and 
the  resisting  strength  of  stone  not  to  succumb  to  the 
sufferings  with  which  they  were  overwhelmed. 

We  have  a  striking  instance  of  the  restless  wan- 
derings of  the  Jewish  exiles  in  the  life  of  one  of  the 
sufferers,  who,  though  insignificant,  became  known 
to  fame  by  his  zeal  to  raise  the  courage  of  the  un- 
fortunate. To  Isaac  ben  Abraham  Akrish,  a  Span- 
iard, a  great  traveler  and  a  bookworm  (born  about 
1489,  died  after  1575),  Jewish  literature  owes  the 
preservation  of  many  a  valuable  document.  Akrish 
said,  half  in  joke,  half  in  earnest,  that  he  must  have 
been  born  in  the  hour  when  the  planet  Jupiter  was 
passing  through  the  zodiacal  sign  of  the  Fishes,  a 
nativity  which  indicates  a  wandering  life.  For, 
though  lame  in  both  feet,  he  spent  his  whole  life  in 
traveling  from  city  to  city,  on  land  and  on  sea. 
When  a  boy,  Akrish  was  banished  from  Spain,  and 
at  Naples  he  underwent  all  the  sufferings  which 
seem  to  have  conspired  against  the  exiles.  Thus  he 
limped  from  nation  to  nation,  "whose  languages  he 
did  not  understand,  and  who  spared  neither  old  men 
nor  children,"  until  in  Egypt,  in  the  house  of  an 
exile,  he  found  a  few  years'  rest.  Who  can  follow 
all  the  wandering  exiles,  with  sore  feet,  and  still 
sorer  hearts,  until  they  somewhere  found  rest,  or  the 
peace  of  the  grave  ? 

But  the  very  enormity  of  the  misery  they  en- 


dured  raised  the  dignity  of  the  Sephardic  Jews  to  a 
height  bordering  on  pride.  That  they  whom  God's 
hand  had  smitten  so  heavily,  so  persistently,  and 
who  had  undergone  such  unspeakable  sorrow,  must 
occupy  a  peculiar  position,  and  belong  to  the  spe- 
cially elect,  was  the  thought  or  the  feeling  existing 
more  or  less  clearly  in  the  breasts  of  the  survivors. 
They  looked  upon  their  banishment  from  Spain  as 
a  third  exile,  and  upon  themselves  as  favorites  of 
God,  whom,  because  of  His  greater  love  for  them, 
He  had  chastised  the  more  severely.  Contrary  lo 
expectation,  a  certain  exaltation  took  possession  of 
them,  which  did  not,  indeed,  cause  them  to  forget, 
but  transfigured,  their  sufferings.  As  soon  as  they 
felt  even  slightly  relieved  from  the  burden  of  their 
boundless  calamity,  and  were  able  to  breathe,  they 
rose  with  elastic  force,  and  carried  their  heads  high 
like  princes.  They  had  lost  everything  except  their 
Spanish  pride,  their  distinguished  manner.  How- 
ever humbled  they  might  be,  their  pride  did  not  for- 
sake them  ;  they  asserted  it  wherever  their  wander- 
ing feet  found  a  resting-place.  And  to  some  extent 
they  were  justified.  They  had,  indeed,  since  the 
growth  of  the  tendency  among  Jews  towards  strict 
orthodoxy  and  hostility  to  science,  and  since  their 
exclusion  from  social  circles,  receded  from  the  high 
scientific  position  they  had  held,  and  forfeited  the 
supremacy  they  had  maintained  during  many  centu- 
ries; yet  they  far  surpassed  the  Jews  of  all  other 
countries  in  culture,  manners,  and  also  in  worth,  as 
was  shown  by  their  external  bearing  and  their  lan- 
guage. Their  love  for  their  country  was  too  great 
to  allow  them  to  hate  the  unnatural  mother  who  had 
cast  them  out.  Hence,  wherever  they  went,  they 
founded  Spanish  or  Portuguese  colonies.  They 
carried  the  Spanish  tongue,  Spanish  dignity  and  dis- 
tinction to  Africa,  Syria,  and  Palestine,  Italy  and 
Flanders ;  wherever  fate  cast  their  lot  they  cher- 
ished and  cultivated  this   Spanish  manner  so   lov- 


ingly,  that  it  has  maintained  itself  to  this  day  in  full 
vigor  among  their  descendants.  Far  from  being  ab- 
sorbed by  the  rest  of  the  Jewish  population  in  coun- 
tries which  had  hospitably  received  them,  they  con- 
sidered themselves  a  privileged  race,  the  flower  and 
nobility  of  the  Jewish  nation,  kept  aloof  from  others, 
looked  down  upon  them  with  contempt,  and  not  un- 
frequently  dictated  laws  to  them.  This  arose  from 
the  fact  that  the  Spanish  and  Portuguese  Jews  spoke 
the  languages  of  their  native  countries  (which  by  the 
discoveries  and  conquests  of  the  sixteenth  century 
had  become  the  languages  of  the  world)  with  purity, 
took  part  in  literature,  and  associated  with  Chris- 
tians on  equal  terms,  with  manliness,  and  without 
fear  or  servility.  On  this  point  they  contrasted 
with  the  German  Jews,  who  despised  pure  and 
beautiful  speech,  the  very  thing  which  constitutes  a 
true  man,  and  considered  a  corrupt  jargon  and  iso- 
lation from  the  Christian  world  as  proofs  of  religious 
zeal.  The  Sephardic  Jews  attached  importance  to 
forms  of  all  kinds,  to  taste  in  dress,  to  elegance  in 
their  synagogues,  as  well  as  to  the  medium  for  the 
exchange  of  thought.  The  Spanish  and  Portuguese 
rabbis  preached  in  their  native  tongues,  and  laid 
great  stress  on  pure  pronunciation  and  euphony. 
Hence  their  language  did  not  degenerate,  at  least 
not  in  the  first  centuries  after  their  expulsion.  "  In 
the  cities  of  Salonica,  Constantinople,  Alexandria, 
Cairo,  Venice,  and  other  resorts  of  commerce,  the 
Jews  transact  their  business  only  in  the  Spanish 
language.  I  have  known  Jews  of  Salonica  who, 
though  still  young,  pronounced  Castilian  as  well  as 
myself,  and  even  better."  This  is  the  judgment  of 
a  Christian  writer  about  half  a  century  after  their 

The  contempt  which  even  Isaac  Abrabanel,  mild 
and  broken  though  he  was,  entertained  for  the  bar- 
barous jargon  spoken  by  German  Jews  is  character- 
istic.    He  was  surprised  to  discover  in  a  letter,  sent 


to  him  by  Saul  Cohen  of  Candia,  a  native  of  Ger- 
many, a  finished  Hebrew  style  and  close  reasoning, 
and  freely  expressed  his  astonishment:  "I  am  sur- 
prised to  find  so  excellent  a  style  among  the  Ger- 
mans (Jews),  which  is  rare  even  among  their  leaders 
and  rabbis,  however  gifted  they  may  be  in  other 
respects.  Their  language  is  full  of  awkwardness 
and  clumsiness,  a  stammering  without  judgment." 
This  superiority  of  the  Jews  of  Spanish  descent  in 
culture,  bearing,  social  manners,  and  knowledge  of 
the  world,  was  appreciated  and  admired  by  other 
Jews,  especially  by  German  Jews,  with  whom  they 
everywhere  came  into  contact.  Hence  Spanish 
Jews  could  presume  to  play  the  role  of  masters, 
and  frequently,  in  spite  of  their  paucity  of  numbers, 
they  dominated  a  majority  speaking  other  tongues. 
In  the  century  after  their  expulsion  they  are  almost 
exclusively  the  leaders  ;  the  names  of  their  spokes- 
men are  heard  everywhere ;  they  furnished  rabbis, 
authors,  thinkers  and  visionaries,  whilst  German 
and  Italian  Jews  occupied  a  humble  place.  In  all 
countries,  except  Germany  and  Poland,  into  which 
they  had  not  penetrated,  or  only  as  solitary  indi- 
viduals, the  Sephardic  Jews  were  the  leaders. 

The  northern  coast  of  Africa,  and  the  inhabitable 
regions  inland,  were  full  of  Jews  of  Spanish  descent. 
They  had  congregated  there  in  great  numbers  dur- 
ing the  century  from  the  persecution  of  1391  to 
their  total  expulsion.  From  Safi  (Assafi),  the  most 
southwestern  town  of  Morocco,  to  Tripoli  in  the 
northeast,  there  were  many  communities,  of  vary- 
ing numbers,  speaking  the  Spanish  language. 
Though  mostly  hated,  arbitrarily  treated,  and  often 
compelled  by  petty  barbarian  tyrants  and  the  un- 
civilized, degenerate  Moorish  population  to  wear  a 
disgraceful  costume,  yet  prominent  Jews  found  op- 
portunities to  distinguish  themselves,  to  rise  to 
hiorh  honors  and  acquire  widespread  influence.  In 
Morocco  a   rich  Jew,  learned  in  history,  who  had 


rendered  important  services  to  the  ruler  of  that 
country,  was  held  in  high  esteem.  At  Fez,  where 
there  existed  a  community  of  five  thousand  Jewish 
families,  who  monopolized  most  trades,  Samuel 
Alvalensi,  a  Jew  of  Spanish  descent,  was  greatly 
beloved  by  the  king,  on  account  of  his  ability  and 
his  courage,  and  so  trusted  by  the  populace  that  it 
accepted  him  as  its  leader.  In  the  struggle  between 
the  two  reigning  families,  the  Merinos  and  the 
Xerifs,  he  sided  with  the  former,  led  one  thousand 
four  hundred  Jews  and  Moors  against  the  followers 
of  the  latter,  and  defeated  them  at  Ceuta.  A  very 
numerous  Jewish  community  of  Spanish  descent 
occupied  the  greater  portion  of  Tlem^en.or  Trem^en, 
an  important  town,  where  the  court  resided.  Here 
Jacob  Berab  (born  1474,  died  1541),  fleeing  from 
Spain,  found  a  refuge.  He  was  one  of  the  most 
active  men  among  the  Spanish  emigrants,  and  the 
most  acute  rabbi  of  his  age.  At  the  same  time,  he 
was  a  crusty,  dogmatical  and  quarrelsome  man,  who 
had  many  enemies,  but  also  many  admirers.  Born 
at  Maqueda,  near  Toledo,  Jacob  Berab,  after  pass- 
ing through  many  dangers,  suffering  want,  hunger 
and  thirst,  reached  Tlem^en,  whence  he  went  to 
Fez,  the  Jewish  community  of  which  chose  him,  a 
needy  youth,  for  their  rabbi,  on  account  of  his 
learning  and  sagacity.  There  he  conducted  a  col- 
lege until  the  fanatic  Spaniards  made  conquests  in 
northern  Africa,  and  disturbed  the  quiet  asylum  that 
the  Jews  had  found  there. 

The  reduced  community  of  Algiers  was  under 
the  direction  of  Simon  Duran  II,  a  descendant  of 
the  Spanish  fugitives  of  1391  (born  1439,  died  after 
1 5 10),  a  son  of  Solomon  Duran,  the  rabbi  with 
philosophic  culture.  Like  his  brother,  he  was  con- 
sidered in  his  day  a  high  rabbinical  authority,  and 
the  advice  of  both  was  sought  by  many  persons. 
Of  as  noble  a  disposition  as  his  father,  Simon  Duran 
was  the  protector  of  his  co-religionists  and  the  sheet- 


anchor  of  the  Spanish  exiles  who  came  within  his 
reach,  for  he  shunned  neither  cost  nor  danger  when 
the  reHgion,  morals  and  safety  of  his  compatriots 
were  in  question.  Fifty  fugitive  Jews,  who  had  suf- 
fered shipwreck,  had  been  cast  on  the  coast  of  Seville, 
where  the  fanatical  Spaniards,  in  accordance  with 
the  edict,  put  them  into  prison,  and  kept  them  there 
for  two  years.  They  were  in  daily  expectation  of 
death,  but  finally  they  were  pardoned — that  is  to 
say,  sold  for  slaves.  As  such  they  reached  Algiers 
in  a  deplorable  condition  ;  but  by  the  exertions  of 
Simon  Duran  they  were  redeemed  for  the  sum  of 
seven  hundred  ducats,  which  the  small  community 
managed  to  collect. 

Two  eminent  Spanish  Jews,  the  aged  historian 
and  astronomer,  Abraham  Zacuto,  and  a  younger 
man,  Moses  Alashkar,  found  a  refuge  at  Tunis. 
Zacuto,  who  had  taught  mathematics  and  astronomy 
to  Christian  and  Mahometan  pupils  in  Spain,  and 
whose  published  writings  were  widely  read  and  made 
use  of,  was  nevertheless  compelled  to  wander  about 
like  an  outlaw,  and  had  only  with  difficulty  escaped 
death.  He  seems  to  have  spent  some  quiet  years 
at  Tunis,  where  he  completed  his  more  celebrated 
than  useful  chronicle  ("Sefer  Yochasin,"  1504), 
history  it  cannot  be  called.  It  is  an  epitome  of 
Jewish  history,  with  especial  reference  to  the  litera- 
ture of  the  Jews.  It  has  the  merit  of  having  pro- 
moted historical  research  among  Jews,  but  lacks 
artistic  arrangement  and  completeness.  It  is  a  mere 
compilation  from  works  accessible  to  the  writer, 
who  has  even  failed  to  give  a  complete  sketch  of  the 
history  of  his  own  times,  the  sufferings  of  the  Span- 
ish and  Portuguese  Jews.  Zacuto's  chronicle  was  a 
child  of  his  old  age  and  misery  ;  he  wrote  it  with  a 
trembling  hand,  in  fear  of  impending  events,  and 
without  sufficient  literary  materials.  On  this  ac- 
count it  must  be  judged  leniently. 

A  contemporary  of  Zacuto  at  Tunis  was  Moses 


ben  Isaac  Alashkar,  as  deeply  learned  a  Talmudist 
as  his  teacher,  Samuel  Alvalensi.  He  was  a  correct 
thinker,  and  devoid  of  narrow  one-sidedness.  He 
plunged  into  the  dark  labyrinths  of  the  Kabbala, 
yet,  at  the  same  time,  raised  his  eyes  to  the  bright 
heights  of  philosophy — a  mental  misalliance  possible 
in  those  days.  Alashkar  even  defended  Maimuni 
and  his  philosophical  system  against  the  charge  of 
heresy  brought  by  obscurantists. 

Terrified  by  the  perils  which  the  Spanish  arms 
foreboded  to  the  Jews  of  northern  Africa,  Zacuto 
and  Alashkar,  with  many  others,  appear  to  have 
quitted  Tunis.  They  were  but  too  well  acquainted 
with  the  cruelties  practiced  against  Jews  by  the  ultra- 
Catholic  Spaniards.  The  former  went  to  Turkey, 
where  he  died  shortly  after  his  arrival  (before  15 15). 
Alashkar  fled  to  Egypt,  where  his  extensive  learn- 
ing and  wealth  secured  for  him  an  honorable  posi- 

Egypt,  especially  its  capital,  Cairo,  had  become 
the  home  of  many  Jewish-Spanish  fugitives,  who 
had  in  a  short  time  acquired  an  influence  surpassing 
that  of  the  original  Jewish  inhabitants.  On  their 
arrival,  all  the  Jewish  communities  were,  as  of  old, 
ruled  by  a  Jewish  chief  justice  or  prince  (Nagid, 
Reis).  The  office  was  then  held  by  the  noble  and 
rich  Isaac  Cohen  Shalal,  a  man  of  upright  character, 
learned  in  the  Talmud,  who  employed  his  wealth 
and  the  high  esteem  in  which  he  was  held  by  all, 
even  including  the  Egyptian  Mameluke  sultan,  for 
the  benefit  of  his  community  and  the  fugitives  who 
settled  in  their  midst.  He  impartially  promoted 
deserving  men  of  the  Spanish  immigration  to  offices, 
whereby  they  gradually  obtained  paramount  influ- 
ence. The  Spanish  scholar,  Samuel  Sidillo  (or  Sid, 
Ibn-Sid),  a  disciple  of  the  last  Toledan  rabbi,  Isaac 
de  Leon,  highly  venerated  in  his  day  on  account  of 
his  piety  and  his  profound  rabbinical  knowledge, 
found  a  refuge  at  Cairo.     A  Spanish  fugitive  who 


acquired  still  higher  distinction  was  David  Ibn-Abi 
Zimra  (born  1470,  died  about  1573).  A  disciple  of 
the  mystic  Joseph  Saragossi,  he  was  rich  in  knowl- 
edge and  virtues,  as  well  as  in  property  and  dis- 
tinguished descendants,  and  he  soon  outshone  the 
natives,  acquiring  the  reputation  of  being  the  highest 
rabbinical  authority  in  Egypt.  Many  other  Spanish 
rabbinical  scholars  found  rest  in  Egypt ;  to  those 
already  named,  including  Jacob  Berab  and  Moses 
Alashkar,  we  may  add  Abraham  Ibn-Shoshan,  all 
eventually  becoming  official  rabbis. 

Political  changes  in  Egypt  placed  the  Spaniards 
at  the  head  of  the  Jewish  communities  in  that  country. 
The  land  of  the  Nile,  together  with  Syria  and  Pales- 
tine, whose  conquest  was  so  difficult  a  task  for  the 
sultans  of  Constantinople,  finally  became  the  well- 
secured  prey  of  Selim  I,  who  won  a  splendid  victory 
over  the  Mameluke  sultan  in  a  decisive  battle  not 
far  from  Aleppo  (15 17).  His  march  from  Syria  to 
Egypt  was  a  triumphal  progress.  Selim  spent  the 
summer  of  that  year  in  remodeling  the  order  of 
things  in  Egypt,  reducing  it  to  a  real  dependency 
of  Turkey,  turning  it,  in  fact,  into  a  province,  ruled 
by  a  viceroy,  a  pasha  entirely  devoted  to  him.  Abra- 
ham de  Castro,  a  Jew  of  Spanish  descent,  was  ap- 
pointed by  Selim  master  of  the  mint  for  the  new 
Turkish  coinage,  and,  by  his  wealth  and  influence, 
he  acquired  great  weight  among  Turkish  officials  and 
the  Egyptian  Jews.  De  Castro  was  very  benevo- 
lent; he  annually  spent  three  thousand  gold  florins 
in  alms,  and  in  ever)'  way  took  lively  interest  in  the 
affairs  of  his  co-religionists. 

Selim,  or  his  viceroy,  appears  to  have  introduced 
an  entirely  new  order  into  the  management  of  the 
Eg\'ptian  Jews.  For  ages  a  chief  rabbi  and  judge 
had  ruled  all  the  communities ;  the  person  holding 
the  office  had  possessed  a  kind  of  princely  power, 
similar  to  that  formerly  exercised  by  the  princes  of 
the  exile  in  Babylon.      The  chief  rabbi  or  prince 


(Nagid)  nominated  the  rabbis  of  the  communities, 
had  the  supreme  decision  of  disputes  among  Jews, 
confirmed  or  rejected  every  new  regulation,  was 
even  authorized  to  decree  corporal  punishment  for 
offenses  and  crimes  committed  by  Jews  under  his 
jurisdiction.  From  these  functions  he  derived  a 
considerable  revenue,  but  all  this  ceased  with  the 
Turkish  conquest.  Every  community  was  thence- 
forth declared  independent  in  the  election  of  its 
head,  and  allowed  to  manage  its  own  affairs.  The 
last  Jewish-Egyptian  prince  or  chief  rabbi  was  de- 
posed from  his  dignity,  and  betook  himself  with  his 
riches  to  Jerusalem,  where  he  became  a  benefactor 
of  its  growing  community.  The  office  of  rabbi  of 
Cairo  was  bestowed  on  the  Spanish  immigrant 
David  Ibn-Abi  Zimra,  on  account  of  his  upright 
character,  learning,  benevolent  disposition,  and 
chiefly,  probably,  on  account  of  his  wealth.  His 
authority  rose  to  such  a  degree  that  he  could  ven- 
ture to  abolish  a  very  ancient  custom,  which  exces- 
sive conservatism  had  dragged  along  from  century 
to  century,  like  a  dead  limb.  The  Babylonian  Jews 
had  more  than  eighteen  hundred  years  before 
adopted  the  Syrian  or  Seleucidan  chronology 
[Minyan  Yavanim,  Minyfin  Shetaroth) ,  in  memory 
of  the  victory  of  the  Syrian  king  Seleucus  over  the 
other  generals  of  Alexander  the  Great.  The  Syrian 
empire  and  the  Seleucidae  had  perished  long  ago, 
Syria  had  by  turns  become  the  prey  of  Romans, 
Byzantines,  Mahometans,  Mongols  and  Turks ; 
nevertheless,  the  Babylonian  and  Egyptian  Jews 
had  retained  that  chronology,  employing  it  not  only 
in  historical  records  and  secular  papers,  but  also  in 
the  dating  of  documents  of  divorce  and  similar 
deeds.  Whilst  the  Jews  of  Palestine  and  of  Europe 
had  gradually  adopted  other  chronologies,  as  "After 
the  Destruction  of  the  Temple,"  or  "  Since  the  Crea- 
tion "  {cEra  muncil),  the  Babylonian  and  Egyptian 
Jews  so  pertinaciously  adhered  to  the  Seleucidan 


era  as  to  declare  invalid  every  letter  of  divorce  not 
so  dated.  Ibn-Abi  Zimra  abolished  this  antiquated 
chronology,  as  far  as  Egypt  was  concerned,  introduc- 
ing in  its  stead  the  already  accepted  mode  of  reckon- 
ing from  the  Creation,  and  his  innovation  met  with 
no  opposition.  The  ascendency  of  the  immigrant 
Sephardic  Jews  over  the  majority  of  the  original 
community  (the  Mostarabi)  was  so  great  and  so 
well  established,  that  the  former,  in  spite  of  the  ob- 
jections of  the  latter,  succeeded  in  the  bold  attempt 
to  abolish  an  ancient  and  beautiful  custom,  intro- 
duced by  Maimuni  himself.  The  Mostarabian  Jews 
for  more  than  three  centuries  had  been  accustomed 
to  have  the  chief  prayer  said  aloud  in  the  synagogue, 
by  the  reader  (Chazan),  without  themselves  partici- 
pating in  it.  But  to  the  pious  immigrants  from  the 
Peninsula  this  custom,  though  promoting  decorum 
and  devotion,  appeared  illegal,  anti-Talmudic,  if  not 
heretical,  and  they  zealously  set  to  work  to  abolish 
it.  Terrible  sufferings  had  hardened  the  hearts  of 
the  Sephardic  Jews,  and  they  were  but  too  ready 
to  exercise  the  utmost  severity  in  religious  matters, 
and  slavishly  to  follow  the  letter.  The  rabbi,  David 
Ibn-Abi  Zimra,  was  their  leader. 

During  his  term  of  office  a  great  danger  hovered 
over  the  Cairo  community.  The  fourth  viceroy  of 
Egypt,  Achmed  Shaitan  (Satan),  harbored  the  de- 
sign of  severing  Egypt  from  Turkey,  and  making 
himself  its  independent  master.  Having  succeeded  in 
his  first  measures,  he  proposed  to  the  Jewish  super- 
intendent of  the  mint,  Abraham  de  Castro,  to  have 
his  name  placed  on  the  coins.  De  Castro  pretended 
compliance,  but  asked  for  a  written  order.  Having 
obtained  it  he  secretly  left  Egypt,  and  hastened  to 
the  court  of  Solyman  I,  at  Constantinople,  to  inform 
the  sultan  of  the  treacherous  design  of  the  pasha, 
which  was  thus  frustrated.  Achmed  vented  his  rage 
on  the  Jews,  threw  some  of  them,  probably  De 
Castro's  friends  and  relatives,  into  prison,  and  per- 

396  HISTORY   OF  THE  JEW$.  CH.  XIll. 

mitted  the  Mamelukes  to  plunder  the  Jewish  quarter 
of  Cairo.  He  then  sent  for  twelve  of  the  most 
eminent  Jews,  and  commanded  them  within  a  short 
time  to  find  an  exorbitant  sum  of  money,  threaten- 
ing them,  in  case  of  non-compliance,  with  a  cruel 
death  for  themselves  and  their  families.  For 
greater  security  he  retained  them  as  hostages. 
To  the  supplications  of  the  Jewish  community  for 
mercy  and  delay,  the  tyrant  replied  by  more  terrible 
threats.  In  their  hopelessness  the  Jews  of  Cairo 
tnrned  in  fervent  prayer  to  God.  Meanwhile  the 
collectors  had  got  together  a  considerable  sum, 
which  they  offered  as  a  payment  on  account.  But 
as  it  scarcely  amounted  to  the  tenth  part  of  Ach- 
med's  demand,  his  private  secretary  had  the  collec- 
tors put  in  irons,  and  threatened  them,  and  all  the 
members  of  the  community,  with  certain  death  on 
that  very  day,  as  soon  as  his  master  left  his  bath. 
At  the  very  moment  when  the  secretary  uttered 
these  words,  the  pasha  was  attacked  in  his  bath  by 
Mahomet  Bey,  one  of  his  vizirs,  and  some  other 
conspirators,  and  severely  wounded.  Achmed 
Shaitan  made  good  his  escape  from  the  palace, 
but  was  betrayed,  overtaken,  cast  into  fetters  and 
then  beheaded.  The  imprisoned  Jews  were  set 
free,  and  their  community  escaped  a  great  peril. 
The  Egyptian  Jews  for  a  long  period  afterwards 
commemorated  the  day  of  their  deliverance  (Adar 
27th  or  28th,  1524 — a  Cairoan  Purim,  Furin  al- 

By  the  immigration  of  Spaniards  and  Portuguese, 
Jerusalem  and  other  Palestinian  cities  also  obtained 
a  great  increase  of  members  to  their  congregations, 
and  considerable  importance.  Here,  too,  the  immi- 
grants in  a  short  time  became  the  social  and 
religious  leaders.  In  the  very  brief  period  of  seven 
years  the  number  of  Jewish  families  in  the  Holy 
City  grew  from  scarcely  seventy  to  two  hundred, 
and  again  within  the  space  of  two  decades  (1495- 


152 1 ),  it  rose  from  two  hundred  to  fifteen  hundred. 
The  influx  of  new  settlers  had  largely  augmented 
the  prosperity  of  the  Jewish  inhabitants  of  Jeru- 
salem. Whilst  formerly  nearly  all  the  members  of 
the  community  were  in  a  state  of  destitution,  three 
decades  afterwards  there  were  only  two  hundred 
receiving  alms.  And  what  is  of  greater  importance, 
morality  was  greatly  benefited  by  the  immigrants. 
Jerusalem  was  no  longer  the  den  of  robbers  found 
by  Obadyah  (Obadiah)  di  Bertinoro  (1470 — 1520), 
who  had  immigrated  from  Italy.  The  members 
of  the  community  were  no  longer  harassed  to  death, 
and  driven  to  despair  or  voluntary  exile  by  a  rapa- 
cious, tyrannical  and  treacherous  faction  ;  harmony, 
union,  a  sense  of  justice,  and  peace  had  found  an 
abode  with  them.  There  was  indeed  a  show  of 
excessive  piety,  but  it  no  longer  flagrantly  contrasted 
with  a  revoltingly  immoral  mode  of  life.  Obadyah 
di  Bertinoro,  the  gentle  and  amiable  Italian  preacher, 
had  greatly  contributed  to  this  improvement  of  the 
moral  tone  of  Jerusalem;  for  more  than  two  decades 
he  taught  the  growing  community,  by  precept  and 
example,  genuine  piety,  nobility  of  sentiment  and 
relinquishment  of  barbarian  coarseness.  After  his 
arrival  at  Jerusalem,  he  wrote  to  his  friends:  "If 
there  were  in  this  country  one  sagacious  Jew,  who 
knew  how  to  lead  a  community  gently  and  justly, 
not  Jews  only,  but  also  Mahometans  would  willingly 
submit  to  him,  for  the  latter  are  not  at  all  hostile  to 
the  Jews,  but  full  of  consideration  for  strangers.  But 
there  is  not  one  Jew  in  this  country  possessing  either 
sense  or  social  virtues  ;  all  are  coarse,  misanthrop- 
ical and  avaricious."  Bertinoro  did  not  anticipate 
that  he  himself  would  soften  that  coarseness,  improve 
the  morals,  mitigate  that  immorality,  ennoble  that 
baseness.  But  his  genial,  amiable  manner  disarmed 
evil,  and  healed  the  sores  he  had  discovered,  lamented, 
and  pitilessly  exposed.  Obadyah  was  the  guardian 
angel  of  the  Holy  City,  he  cleansed  it  from  poUu- 


tion,  and  clothed  it  with  a  pure  festival  garment. 
"Were  I  to  attempt  proclaiming  his  praise,"  writes 
an  Italian  pilgrim  to  Jerusalem,  "I  should  never 
cease.  He  is  the  man  who  is  held  in  the  highest 
esteem  in  the  country;  everything  is  done  accord- 
ing to  his  orders,  and  no  one  dares  gainsay  his 
words.  From  all  parts  he  is  sought  after  and  con- 
sulted ;  his  merits  are  acknowledged  by  Egyptians 
and  Babylonians,  and  even  Mahometans  honor  him. 
Withal,  he  is  modest  and  humble ;  his  speech  is 
gentle  ;  he  is  accessible  to  every  one.  All  praise 
him  and  say :  He  is  not  like  an  earthly  being.  When 
he  preaches  every  ear  listens  intently  ;  not  the  least 
sound  is  heard,  his  hearers  are  so  silently  devout." 
Exiles  from  the  Pyrenean  Peninsula  supported  him 
in  his  humane  work. 

To  the  intervention  of  Obadyah  di  Bertinoro,  and 
of  those  who  shared  his  opinions,  probably  were 
due  the  excellent  ordinances  which  the  community 
voluntarily  imposed  on  itself,  and  for  remembrance 
graved  on  a  tablet  in  the  synagogue.  They  were 
directed  against  the  abuses  which  had  crept  in  by 
degrees.  These  ordinances  included  amongst  others 
the  following  decrees :  In  disputes  between  Jews,  the 
Mahometan  authorities  are  to  be  applied  to  only  in 
the  utmost  necessity.  The  Jewish  judge  or  rabbi  is 
not  to  be  allowed  to  compel  wealthy  members  of  the 
community  to  make  advances  for  communal  wants. 
Students  of  the  Talmud  and  widows  shall  not  con- 
tribute to  the  communal  funds.  Jews  are  not  to 
purchase  bad  coin,  and,  if  they  acquire  any  acciden- 
tally, are  not  to  pass  it.  The  pilgrims  to  the  grave 
of  the  prophet  Samuel  are  not  to  drink  wine,  for 
men  and  women  traveled  together,  the  latter  un- 
veiled, and  if  the  men  had  been  excited  by  wine, 
great  mischief  might  have  ensued. 

The  Holy  City  acquired  still  higher  importance 
by  the  immigration  of  Isaac  Shalal,  with  his  riches, 
experience,  and  authority. 


Safet  in  Galilee,  the  youngest  town  of  Palestine, 
next  to  Jerusalem  acquired  the  largest  Jewish  popu- 
lation and  considerable  importance,  which  increased 
to  such  a  degree  that  Safet  not  only  rivaled,  but 
excelled  the  mother-city.  At  the  end  of  the  fifteenth 
and  the  beginning  of  the  next  century  it  sheltered 
only  some  three  hundred  Jewish  families,  original 
inhabitants  (Moriscos),  Berbers,  and  Sephardim. 
It  did  not  at  first  possess  any  eminent  native  ex- 
pounder of  the  Talmud,  who  might  have  become  a 
leader.  It  owed  its  importance  and  far-reaching 
influence  to  the  arrival  of  a  Spanish  fugitive,  under 
whose  direction  the  community'  was  strengthened. 
Joseph  Saragossi  became  for  Safet  what  Obadyah 
di  Bertinoro  had  been  for  Jerusalem.  Driven  from 
Saragossa,  he  passed  through  Sicily,  Beyrout  and 
Sidon,  in  which  latter  place  he  resided  for  some 
time,  and  finally  reached  Safet,  where  he  settled. 
Joseph  Saragossi  possessed  a  mild,  fascinating 
character,  and  considered  it  the  task  of  his  life  to 
preach  peace  and  restore  harmony  in  private  and 
communal  life.  Even  among  Mahometans  he 
worked  in  a  conciliating  and  appeasing  spirit,  and 
on  this  account  he  was  loved  and  revered  as  an 
angel  of  peace.  At  one  time  he  wished  to  leave 
Safet.  The  inhabitants  fairly  clung  to  him,  and 
promised  him  an  annual  salary  of  fifty  ducats,  two 
thirds  of  which  the  Mahometan  governor  of  the  town 
offered  to  furnish.  Joseph  Saragossi  transplanted 
the  study  of  the  Talmud  to  Safet,  and  also  that  of 
the  Kabbala,  as  he  was  an  ultra-pious  mystic. 
Through  him  the  hitherto  untainted  community  be- 
came a  nest  of  Kabbalists. 

In  Damascus,  the  half-Palestinian  capital  of  Syria, 
there  also  arose,  by  the  side  of  the  ver)'  ancient 
Mostarabian  community,  a  Sephardic  congregation, 
composed  of  fugitives,  and  numbering  five  hundred 
Jewish  families.  Within  a  short  time  after  their 
arrival,  the  Spaniards  built  a  splendid  synagogue  at 


Damascus,  called  Khataib.  They  speedily  increased 
to  such  a  degree  as  to  separate  into  several  congre- 
gations, according  to  the  states  from  which  they  had 
originally  come. 

The  main  stream  of  the  Jewish-Spanish  emigration 
flowed  towards  Turkey  in  Europe  ;  the  greater  part 
of  the  remnant  of  the  three  hundred  thousand  exiles 
found  an  asylum  in  that  country,  where  the  inhabit- 
ants did  not  take  love  as  their  watchword.  The 
sultans  Bajazet,  Selim  I  and  Solyman  I,  not  only  tol- 
erated the  fugitive  Jews,  but  gave  them  a  hearty 
welcome,  and  granted  them  the  liberties  enjoyed  by 
Armenians  and  Greeks.  A  Jewish  poet  enthusias- 
tically described  the  freedom  of  his  co-religionists 
in  Turkey.  "Great  Turkey,  a  wide  and  spreading 
sea,  which  our  Lord  opened  with  the  wand  of  His 
mercy  (as  at  the  exodus  from  Egypt),  that  the  tide  of 
thy  present  disaster,  Jacob,  as  happened  with  the 
multitude  of  the  Egyptians,  should  therein  lose  and 
exhaust  itself.  There  the  gates  of  freedom  and 
equal  position  for  the  unhindered  practice  of  Jewish 
worship  are  ever  open,  they  are  never  closed  against 
thee.  There  thou  canst  renew  thy  inner  life,  change 
thy  condition,  strip  off,  and  cast  away  false  and  erro- 
neous doctrines,  recover  thy  ancient  truths,  and 
abandon  the  practices  which,  by  the  violence  of  the 
nations  among  whom  thou  wast  a  pilgrim,  thou  wert 
compelled  to  imitate.  In  this  realm  thou  art  highly 
favored  by  the  Lord,  since  therein  He  granteth 
thee  boundless  liberty  to  commence  thy  late  re- 

The  immigrant  Jews  at  first  enjoyed  very  happy 
days  in  Turkey,  because  they  were  a  godsend  to 
this  comparatively  new  state.  The  Turks  were 
good  soldiers,  but  bad  citizens.  The  sultans, 
frequently  on  bad  terms  with  Christian  states,  could 
place  but  indifferent  trust  in  the  Greeks,  Armenians, 
and  Christians  of  other  national  creeds ;  they  looked 
upon  them  as  born  spies  and  traitors,     But  they 


could  depend  on  the  fidelity  and  usefulness  of  the 
Jews.  Hence  they  were,  on  the  one  hand,  the  busi- 
ness people,  and  on  the  other,  the  citizen  class  of 
Turkey.  They  not  only  carried  on  the  wholesale 
and  retail  commerce  by  land  and  sea,  but  were  the 
handicraftsmen  and  the  artists.  The  Marranos 
especially  who  had  fled  from  Spain  and  Portugal 
manufactured  for  the  warlike  Turks  new  armor  and 
firearms,  cannons  and  gunpowder,  and  taught  the 
Turks  how  to  use  them.  Thus  persecuting  Chris- 
tianity itself  furnished  its  chief  enemies,  the  Turks, 
with  weapons  which  enabled  them  to  overwhelm 
the  former  with  defeat  after  defeat,  humiliation  on 
humiliation.  Jewish  physicians  especially  were  held 
in  high  esteem  in  Turkey  ;  they  were  for  the  most 
part  clever  disciples  of  the  school  of  Salamanca,  and, 
on  account  of  their  skill,  higher  education,  secrecy 
and  discretion,  were  preferred  to  Christian,  and  even 
to  Mahometan  doctors.  These  Jewish  physicians, 
mosdy  of  Spanish  descent,  acquired  great  influence 
with  grand  sultans,  vizirs  and  pashas. 

Sultan  Selim  had  for  his  physician  in  ordinary 
Joseph  Hamon,  an  immigrant  probably  from  Gra- 
nada. Hamon's  son  and  nephew  successively  held 
the  same  office.  The  son,  Moses  Hamon  (born 
1490,  died  about  1565),  physician  to  the  wise  sultan 
Solyman,  on  account  of  his  skill  and  manly,  deter- 
mined character,  enjoyed  even  higher  reputation 
and  influence  than  his  father.  He  accompanied  the 
sultan  in  his  warlike  expeditions,  and  brought  back 
from  Persia,  whither  he  had  followed  Solyman  on  a 
triumphal  progress,  a  learned  man,  Jacob  Tus  or 
Tavs  (about  1535),  who  translated  the  Pentateuch 
into  Persian.  This  version,  accompanied  by  Chal- 
dean and  Arabic  translations,  was  afterwards  printed 
at  the  expense  of  Hamon,  who  was  justly  considered 
a  protector  of  his  brethren  and  a  promoter  of 

The  Jews  were  also  in  great  request  in  Turkey 


as  linguists  and  interpreters,  they  having  acquired 
knowledge  of  many  languages  through  their  wan- 
derings among  foreign  nations. 

The  capital,  Constantinople,  held  within  its  walls 
a  very  numerous  Jewish  community,  which  was  daily 
increased  by  new  fugitives  from  the  Peninsula,  so 
that  it  became  the  largest  in  Europe,  numbering 
probably  thirty  thousand  souls,  't  had  forty-four 
synagogues,  consequently  as  many  separate  congre- 
gations. For  the  Jewish  community  in  the  Turkish 
capital  and  other  towns  did  not  form  a  close  cor- 
poration, but  was  divided  into  groups  and  sections, 
according  to  their  native  places,  each  of  which  was 
anxious  to  retain  its  own  customs,  rites  and  liturgy, 
and  to  possess  its  own  synagogue  and  rabbinical 
college.  Hence  there  w^ere  not  only  Castilian,  Ara- 
gonese  and  Portuguese  congregations,  but  still  more 
restricted  associations.  Cordovan,  Toledan,  Barcelo- 
nian,  Lisbon  groups  (Kahals),  besides  German 
Apulian,  Messinian  and  Greek.  Every  petty  congre- 
gation apportioned  among  its  members  the  contri- 
butions, not  only  for  its  worship,  officials,  the  main- 
tenance of  the  poor,  its  hospitals  and  schools,  but 
also  for  the  taxes  payable  to  the  state.  These  latter 
at  first  were  trifling:  a  poll-tax  on  everyone  subject 
to  taxation  (charaj),  and  a  kind  of  rabbinical  tax 
levied  on  the  congregation,  according  to  the  three 
different  classes  of  property,  of  200,  100  and  20 
aspers.  The  family  of  the  physician  Hamon  alone 
was  exempt  from  taxes. 

At  first  the  native  Jews,  who  formed  the  majority, 
had  complete  preponderance  over  the  immigrants. 
The  office  of  chief  rabbi,  after  the  death  of  the 
meritorious  but  unappreciated  Moses  Kapsali,  was 
held  by  Elias  Mizrachi,  probably  descended  from 
an  immigrant  Greek  family,  who  under  the  sultans 
Bajazet,  Selim  I,  and  perhaps  also  under  Solyman, 
had  a  seat  in  the  divan  Hke  his  predecessor,  and 
was  the  official  representative  of  the  whole  body 


of  Turkish  Jews.  He  deservedly  held  this  post 
on  account  of  his  rabbinical  and  secular  knowl- 
edge, and  upright,  impartially  just  character. 
Elias  Mizrachi  (born  about  1455,  died  between 
1525  and  1527),  a  disciple  of  the  German  school, 
and  a  profound  Talmudist  and  strictly  pious  man, 
was  no  enemy  to  science.  He  not  only  under- 
stood, but  taught  mathematics  and  astronomy,  gave 
public  lectures  thereon,  as  also  on  the  Talmud,  and 
compiled  handbooks  on  these  subjects,  some  of 
which  became  such  favorites  as  to  be  translated  into 
Latin.  In  his  youth  he  was  a  Hotspur,  and  had  a 
feud  with  the  Karaites  in  Turkey.  But  in  his  old 
age  he  felt  more  kindly  towards  them,  and  employed 
his  weighty  influence  to  avert  a  wrong  which  the 
ultra-pious  were  about  to  inflict  on  them.  A  few 
obscurantists,  chiefly  members  of  the  Apulian  con- 
gregation at  Constantinople,  attempted  to  interrupt, 
in  a  violent  manner,  the  neighborly  intercourse 
which  for  half  a  century  had  existed  bet\veen  Rab- 
banites  and  Karaites.  They  assembled  the  mem- 
bers of  the  congregation,  and,  with  the  Sefer  Torah 
in  their  hand,  excommunicated  all  who  should 
henceforth  instruct  Karaites,  whether  children  or 
adults,  in  the  Bible  or  the  Talmud,  or  even  in 
secular  sciences,  such  as  mathematics,  natural 
history,  logic,  music,  or  even  the  alphabet.  Nor 
were  Rabbanite  servants  any  longer  to  take  service 
with  Karaite  families.  These  fanatics  intended  to 
raise  an  insuperable  barrier  between  the  followers 
of  the  Talmud  and  those  of  the  Bible.  But  the 
majority  of  the  Constantinople  communit}'  were 
dissatisfied  with  this  bigoted  measure.  The  tolerant 
Rabbanites  of  the  capital  held  a  meeting  to  frustrate 
the  plan  of  the  zealots.  But  the  latter  behaved  so 
outrageously  and  with  such  violence,  bringing  a 
fierce  rabble  provided  with  cudgels  into  the  syna- 
gogue where  the  consultation  was  to  be  held,  that 
the   conveners   of  the  meeting  had  no    chance  of 


being  heard,  and  the  act  of  excommunication  was 
carried  by  an  insolent  minority,  in  defiance  of  the 
sound  arguments  and  opposition  of  the  majority. 
Then  Rabbi  EHas  Mizrachi  openly  and  vigorously 
opposed  this  unreasonable,  illegal  and  violent  pro- 
ceeding, showing  in  a  learned  discourse  how  unjust 
and  opposed  to  the  Talmud  was  the  rejection  of 
the  Karaites.  He  impressed  on  the  zealots  the  fact 
that  by  their  intolerant  severity  they  would  bring 
about  the  decay  of  the  instruction  of  the  young, 
since  hitherto  emulation  to  surpass  their  Karaite 
companions  had  been  a  great  incentive  to  Rabbanite 

The  Turkish  Jews  in  those  days  had  a  kind  of 
political  representative,  an  advocate  (Kahiya),  or 
chamberlain,  who  had  access  to  the  sultan  and  his 
great  dignitaries,  and  was  appointed  by  the  court, 
Shaltiel,  otherwise  an  unknown  personage,  but  said 
to  have  been  of  noble  character,  held  the  office 
under  Solyman.  With  a  population  looking  con- 
temptuously on  unbelievers,  with  provincial  pashas 
ruling  arbitrarily,  and  with  fanatical  Greek  and  Bul- 
garian Christians,  instances  of  injustice  and  violent 
proceedings  against  the  Jews  in  the  Turkish  empire 
were  not  of  rare  occurrence;  on  all  such  occasions 
the  Kahiya  Shaltiel  interposed  on  behalf  of  his  co- 
religionists, and,  by  means  of  money  liberally  spent 
at  court,  obtained  redress. 

The  community  next  in  importance  in  Turkey  was 
that  of  Salonica  (the  ancient  Thessalonica),  which, 
though  an  unhealthy  town,  possessed  attractions 
for  the  immigrants  of  Spain  and  Provence  ;  for  this 
once  Greek  settlement  offered  more  leisure  for 
peaceful  occupation  than  the  noisy  capital  of  Turkey. 
Ten  congregations  at  least  were  soon  formed  here, 
the  most  of  Sephardic  origin.  Eventually  they  in- 
creased to  thirty-six.  Salonica,  in  fact,  became  a 
Jewish  town,  with  more  Jews  than  Gentiles.  A 
Jewish  poet,  Samuel  Usque,  calls  the  town  "a  mother 


of  Judaism,  built  on  the  deep  foundation  of  the  Lord, 
full  of  excellent  plants  and  fruitful  trees,  such  as  are 
found  nowhere  else  on  earth.  Their  fruit  is  glorious, 
because  it  is  watered  by  an  abundance  of  benevo- 
lence. The  greatest  portion  of  the  persecuted  and 
banished  sons  from  Europe  and  other  parts  of  the 
earth  have  met  therein,  and  been  received  with  lov- 
ing welcomes,  as  if  it  were  our  venerable  mother, 
Jerusalem."  Within  a  short  period  the  Sephardic 
immigrants  acquired  complete  supremacy  over  their 
co-religionists,  even  over  the  original  community, 
so  that  the  leading  language  of  Salonica  became 
Spanish,  which  German  and  Italian  Jews  had  to 
learn,  if  they  wished  to  maintain  intercourse  with 
the  Spanish  immigrants.  The  son  of  one  of 
the  last  Jewish-Spanish  ministers  of  finance,  Judah 
Benveniste,  had  settled  here.  From  his  paternal 
inheritance  he  had  saved  enough  to  possess  a  noble 
library ;  he  was  the  standard  around  which  his 
heavily-tried  brethren  could  rally.  Representatives 
of  Talmudic  learning  were  naturally  found  among 
the  sons  of  the  Pyrenean  Peninsula  only,  such  as 
the  Taytasaks,  a  family  of  scholars,  and  Jacob  Ibn- 
Chabib,  though  even  they  were  not  men  of  the  first 
eminence.  Spanish  immigrants,  such  as  the  physi- 
cians Perachyah  Cohen,  his  son  Daniel,  Aaron  Afia 
(Afifius),  and  Moses  Almosnino,  also  cultivated 
philosophy  and  astronomy  to  some  extent.  But  the 
chief  study  was  that  of  the  Kabbala,  in  which  the 
Spaniards,  Joseph  Taytasak,  Samuel  Franco,  and 
others,  distinguished  themselves.  Salonica  in  Tur- 
key and  Safet  in  Palestine  in  time  became  the  chief 
seats  of  Kabbalistic  extravagance.  Of  less  import- 
ance was  Adrianople,  the  former  residence  of  the 
Turkish  sultans,  though  there  also,  as  at  Nicopolis, 
communities  in  which  the  Sephardic  element  pre- 
dominated were  formed. 

To  the  towns  of  Amasia,  Broussa,  Tria  and  Tokat 
in   Asia    Minor,   the   Spanish    fugitives    furnished 


inhabitants.  Smyrna,  which  later  on  had  a  large 
Jewish  population,  was  then  of  little  importance. 
Greece,  however,  could  show  some  large  communi- 
ties. Calabrese,  Apulian,  Spanish  and  Portuguese 
fugitives  settled  at  Arta  or  Larta,  by  the  side  of  the 
original  inhabitants,  Rumelians  and  Corfuites.  They 
seem  to  have  done  well  here,  for  we  read  that  the 
Jewish  youth  were  much  given  to  gayety  and  dancing, 
thereby  greatly  offending  the  ultra-pious.  Not  un- 
important communities  existed  at  Patras,  Negropont 
and  Thebes.  The  Thebans  were  considered  very 
learned  in  Talmudic  lore.  The  rites  of  the  com- 
munity of  Corfu  were  followed  by  the  other  Jews  of 
Greece.  There  was  an  important  community  at 
Canea,  on  the  island  of  Candia,  belonging  to  Venice. 
At  their  head  were  two  famous  families,  the  Del- 
medigos,  sons  and  relatives  of  the  philosopher 
Elias  del  Medigo,  and  the  Kapsalis,  connections  of 
the  former  chief  rabbi  of  Turkey.  Judah  Del- 
medigo  (the  son  of  the  teacher  of  Pico  di  Mirandola), 
and  Elias  ben  ElkanahKapsali,  finished  their  studies 
under  the  same  rabbi,  Judah  Menz,  of  Padua  ;  never- 
theless, they  were  not  at  one  in  their  views.  As 
both  held  the  office  of  rabbi  at  Canea,  there  was 
constant  friction  between  them.  If  the  one  declared 
anything  to  be  permissible,  the  other  exerted  all 
his  learning  and  ingenuity  to  prove  the  contrary; 
yet  both  were  worthy  men  of  high  principle,  and 
both  were  well  versed  in  general  literature. 

Elias  Kapsali  (born  about  1490,  died  about  1555) 
was  a  good  historian.  When  the  plague  devastated 
Candia,  and  plunged  the  inhabitants  into  mourning, 
he  composed  (in  1523)  a  history  of  the  Turkish 
dynasty  in  a  very  agreeable  Hebrew  style,  in  lucid 
and  elevated  language,  free  from  pompous  and  bar- 
barous diction.  Kapsali  merely  aimed  at  relating 
the  truth.  Interwoven  with  the  Turkish  narrative 
was  the  history  of  the  Jews,  showing  in  gloomy 
colors  the  tragic  fate  of  the  Spanish  exiles,  as  he 


had  heard  it  from  their  own  lips.  Though  in  this 
composition  he  had  the  subsidiary  intention  oi  cheer- 
ing the  people  during  the  continuance  of  the  plague, 
his  work  may  serve  as  a  sample  of  a  fine  Hebrew 
historical  style.  It  has,  indeed,  found  imitators. 
Kapsali  forsook  the  dry  diction  of  the  chroniclers, 
and  as  an  historian  was  far  superior  to  his  prede- 
cessor, Abraham  Zacuto.  Considering  that  Kapsali 
was  a  rabbi  by  profession,  and  that  in  consultations 
and  the  giving  of  opinions  he  was  bound  to  make 
use  of  a  corrupt  jargon,  his  work  displays  much 
versatility  and  talent. 

Italy  at  this  period  swarmed  with  fugitive  Jews. 
Most  of  those  driven  from  Spain,  Portugal  and  Ger- 
many first  touched  Italian  soil,  either  to  settle  there 
under  the  protection  of  some  tolerant  ruler,  or  to 
travel  on  to  Greece,  Turkey,  or  Palestine.  Strangely 
enough,  among  the  masters  of  Italy  the  popes  were 
most  friendly  to  the  Jews:  Alexander  VI,  Julius 
II,  Leo  X,  and  Clement  VII,  were  pursuing  interests, 
or  devoting  themselves  to  hobbies,  which  left  them 
no  time  to  think  of  torturing  Jews.  The  popes 
and  their  cardinals  considered  the  canonical  laws 
only  in  so  far  as  they  needed  them  for  the  extension 
of  their  power  or  to  fill  their  money-bags.  Totally 
oblivious  of  the  decree  of  the  council  of  Basle,  which 
enacted  that  Christians  were  not  to  consult  Jewish 
physicians,  the  popes  and  cardinals  themselves  chose 
Jews  as  their  physicians  in  ordinary.  It  appears 
that,  owing  to  the  secret  warfare,  the  intrigues  and 
the  frequent  use  of  poison,  which,  since  Alexander 
VI,  had  been  rife  in  the  curia,  where  every  one 
looked  on  his  companion  as  an  enemy,  Jewish  phy- 
sicians were  in  favor,  because  there  was  no  danger 
of  their  offering  a  pope  or  cardinal  a  poisoned  cup 
instead  of  a  salutary  remedy.  Alexander  VI  had 
a  Jewish  physician,  Bonet  de  Lates,  a  native  of 
Provence,  who  practiced  astrology,  prepared  an 
astronomical  circle,  and  sent  the  pope  the  Latin  de- 


scrlptlon  thereof  with  a  fulsome  dedication.  Bonet 
de  Lates  afterwards  became  the  favorite  physician 
in  ordinary  to  Leo  X,  and  influenced  his  conduct. 
JuHus  II  had  for  his  physician  Simon  Zarfati,  who 
in  other  respects  also  enjoyed  his  masters  confi- 
dence. Cardinals  and  other  high  princes  of  the 
church  followed  their  examples,  and  generally  in- 
trusted their  sacred  bodies  to  Jewish  doctors,  who 
consequently  were  much  sought  after  in  Italy.  Fol- 
lowing the  example  of  the  popes,  the  northern 
Italian  cities  received  fugitive  Jews,  even  pseudo- 
Christians  re-converted  to  Judaism,  from  Spain  and 
Germany,  and  admitted  them  to  all  the  privileges 
of  free  intercourse.  Even  the  popes  permitted 
Marranos  to  setde  at  Ancona,  notwithstanding 
their  having  been  baptized.  The  most  important 
communities  in  Italy  were  formed,  after  the  an- 
nihilation of  the  Jews  of  Naples,  by  an  influx  from 
other  countries  into  Roman  and  Venetian  terri- 
tory ;  in  the  latter,  Venice  and  the  flourishing  city 
of  Padua,  in  the  former,  Rome  and  the  port  of  An- 
cona, receiving  most  of  them.  Two  opposite  views 
with  regard  to  Jews  swayed  the  council  of  the 
egotistical  Venetian  republic.  On  the  one  hand,  this 
commercial  state  did  not  wish  to  lose  the  advantages 
that  Jewish  connections  might  bring,  though  at  the 
same  time  it  was  loath  to  foster  them,  for  fear  of 
offending  the  Levantine  Jews,  their  co-religionists  in 
Turkey;  on  the  other  hand,  the  Venetian  merchants 
were  full  of  trade  envy  against  Jews.  Hence  the 
latter  were  caressed  or  oppressed  as  the  one  or 
the  other  party  predominated  in  the  Signoria. 
Venice  was  the  first  Italian  city  wherein  Jews  resi- 
ded which  set  apart  a  special  quarter  as  a  Ghetto 
(March,  1516). 

As  a  rule  the  immigrant  Jews,  Spaniards  or  Ger- 
mans, obtained  supremacy  in  Italy  over  native 
Jews,  both  in  rabbinical  learning  and  communal 
relations.      The  Abrabanels  played   an   important 


part  in  Italy.  The  head  of  the  family,  Isaac  Abra- 
banel,  indeed,  was  too  much  bowed  down  by  age 
and  suffering  to  exercise  much  influence  in  any 
direction.  He  died  before  Jewish  affairs  had  as- 
sumed a  settled  condition.  His  eldest  son,  Leon 
Medigo,  likewise  made  no  impression  on  his  sur- 
roundings ;  he  was  too  much  of  a  philosophical 
dreamer  and  idealist,  a  poetic  soul  averse  to  dealing 
with  the  things  of  this  world.  Only  the  youngest 
of  the  three  brothers,  Samuel  Abrabanel  (born  1473, 
died  about  1 550)  left  his  mark  on  his  contemporaries. 
He  was  considered  the  most  eminent  Jew  in  Italy, 
and  his  community  venerated  him  like  a  prince. 
He  alone  inherited  his  father's  financial  genius,  and, 
after  his  return  from  the  Talmudic  college  at  Salon- 
ica,  appears  to  have  availed  himself  of  it,  and  to 
have  been  employed  in  the  department  of  finance 
by  the  viceroy  of  Naples,  Don  Pedro  de  Toledo. 
At  Naples  he  acquired  a  considerable  fortune,  val- 
ued at  more  than  200,000  zechins.  He  employed 
his  wealth  to  gratify  the  disposition  hereditary  in  his 
family  to  practice  noble  beneficence.  The  Jewish 
poet,  Samuel  Usque,  gives  an  enthusiastic  description 
of  his  heart  and  mind  :  "  Samuel  Abrabanel  deserves 
to  be  called  Trismegistus  (thrice  great)  ;  he  is  great 
and  wise  in  the  Law,  great  in  nobility,  and  great  in 
riches.  With  his  wealth  he  is  always  magnanimous, 
a  help  in  the  sorrows  of  his  brethren.  He  joins  in- 
numerable orphans  in  wedlock,  supports  the  needy, 
and  redeems  captives,  so  that  he  possesses  all  the 
great  qualities  which  make  the  prophet," 

To  increase  his  happiness  heaven  had  given  him 
a  companion  in  life,  the  complement  of  his  high 
virtues,  whose  name,  Benvenida  Abrabanela,  was 
uttered  by  her  contemporaries  with  devout  venera- 
tion. Tender-hearted,  deeply  religious,  wise  and 
courageous,  she  was  a  pattern  of  refinement  and  high 
breeding,  qualities  more  highly  esteemed  in  Italy  than 
in  any  other  European  country.     Don  Pedro,  the 


powerful  Spanish  viceroy  of  Naples,  allowed  his  sec'- 
ond  daughter,  Leonora,  to  be  on  intimate  terms  with 
Benvenida,  that  she  might  learn  by  her  example. 
When  this  daughter  afterwards  became  Duchess  of 
Tuscany,  she  kept  up  her  acquaintance  with  the 
Jewish  lady,  and  called  her  by  the  honored  name  of 
mother.  This  noble  pair,  Samuel  Abrabanel  and 
Benvenida,  in  whom  tenderness  and  worldly  wis- 
dom, warm  attachment  to  Judaism  and  social  inter- 
course with  non-Jewish  circles  were  combined,  were 
at  once  the  pride  and  the  sheet-anchor  of  the  Ital- 
ian Jews,  and  of  all  who  came  under  their  ben- 
eficent influence.  Samuel  Abrabanel,  though  not 
so  well  versed  in  the  Talmud  as  his  poetic  wor- 
shiper represents  him  to  have  been,  was  a  friend  and 
promoter  of  Jewish  knowledge.  To  fill  the  office  of 
rabbi  at  Naples,  he  sent  for  David  Ibn-Yachya  and 
his  young,  courageous  wife,  who  had  fled  from 
Portugal  (1518)  ;  and,  as  the  congregation  was 
too  small  to  pay  his  salary,  Abrabanel  paid  it  him- 
self. In  his  house  the  learned  Yachya  lectured  on 
the  Talmud,  and  probably  also  on  Hebrew  grammar. 
He  thus  formed  a  center  far  Jewish  science  in  south- 
ern Italy.  Christian  men  of  science  also  resorted  to 
Abrabanel's  house. 

The  chief  seat  of  Talmudic  or  rabbinical  studies 
was  at  that  time  at  Padua,  where  presided  not  Ital- 
ians butimmigrantGermans.  Judah  Menz,  of  May- 
ence,  even  at  his  great  age  of  more  than  a  hundred 
years,  exercised  attractive  power  over  studious  dis- 
ciples from  Italy,  Germany,  and  Turkey,  as  though 
from  his  lips  they  would  learn  the  wisdom  of  a  time 
about  to  pass  away.  To  be  a  pupil  of  Menz,  was 
considered  a  great  honor  and  distinction.  After  he 
died,  his  son,  Abraham  Menz,  undertook  the  direc- 
tion of  the  college  (1504 — 1526)  ;  but  his  authority 
was  not  undisputed.  The  native  Jews  have  in  no 
direction  left  names  of  note.  The  chronicles  men- 
tion some  famous  Jewish-Italian  physicians,  who  also 


distinguished  themselves  in  other  branches,  such  as 
Abraham  deBalmes  (1521),  of  Lecce,  physician  and 
friend  of  Cardinal  Grimani.  De  Balmes  possessed 
philosophical  knowledge,  and  wrote  a  work  on  the 
Hebrew  language,  which  was  published  with  a  Latin 
translation  by  a  Christian.  Other  Jewish  physicians 
of  the  same  age  were  Judah,  or  Laudadeus  de  Blanis, 
at  Perugia,  a  worshiper  of  the  Kabbala,  and  Obad- 
yah,  or  Servadeus  de  Sforno  (Sfurno,  born  about 
1470,  died  1 550),  a  physician  of  Rome  and  Bologna, 
who,  besides  medicine,  studied  biblical  and  philo- 
sophical subjects,  and  dedicated  some  of  his  Hebrew 
writings  with  a  Latin  translation  to  King  Henry  II, 
of  France.  But,  as  far  as  we  are  now  able  to  judge 
of  these  highly  praised  compositions,  they  are  medi- 
ocre, and  the  authors,  even  in  their  own  times, 
enjoyed  but  local  reputation.  It  is  certain  that 
De  Balmes  and  Sforno  are  far  beneath  Jacob 
Mantin ,  who,  driven  from  Tortosa  to  Italy,  there  dis- 
tinguished himself  as  a  physician  and  philosopher, 
leaving  a  famous  name  behind  him.  Mantin  (born 
about  1490,  died  about  1549)  was  a  great  linguist; 
beside  his  native  language  and  Hebrew,  he  under- 
stood Latin,  Italian  and  Arabic.  He  was  a  deeply 
learned  physician  and  philosopher,  and  translated 
medical  and  metaphysical  works  from  Hebrew  or 
Arabic  into  Latin.  He  was  held  in  high  esteem  as 
physician  by  a  pope  and  the  ambassador  of  Charles 
V  at  Venice.  But  his  learning  was  marred  by  his 
iniquitous  character  ;  envy  and  ambition  led  him  to 
commit  wicked  deeds,  to  accuse  and  persecute  inno- 
cent persons,  even  his  own  co-religionists. 

In  those  days  there  lived  in  Italy  a  man,  who, 
though  not  distinguished  by  any  brilliant  achieve- 
ment, was  superior  to  nearly  all  his  co-religionists 
by  a  qualification  better  and  rarer  than  literary 
ability.  He  was  gifted  with  common  sense  and  a 
fine  understanding,  which  led  him  not  to  judge  of 
things  by  appearances,  or  from  a  limited  point  of 

412  HISTORY   OF   THE   JEWS.  CH.  XIII. 

view.  Abraham  Farissol  (born  1451,  died  about 
1525),  a  native  of  Avignon,  for  reasons  unknown, 
perhaps  from  want,  had  emigrated  to  Ferrara.  He 
supported  himself  by  copying  books,  and  also,  it 
would  appear,  by  officiating  as  chorister  at  the  syna- 
gogue. Though  he  was  in  needy  circumstances,  and 
confined  within  narrow  surroundings,  his  perception 
was  acute,  his  horizon  wide,  and  his  judgment  ma- 
tured. Like  most  of  his  learned  contemporaries  in 
Italy,  he  commented  on  the  Bible,  and  his  independ- 
ence of  thought  in  the  midst  of  the  dense  credulity 
of  his  time  constitutes  his  claim  upon  pre-eminence. 
He  said  of  himself,  "As  regards  miracles,  I  belong 
to  those  of  little  faith."  Farissol  was  the  first  Jewish 
author  who,  instead  of  studying  the  starry  firma- 
ment, astronomy  and  astrology  (to  which  Jewish 
authors  of  the  Middle  Asjes  were  but  too  much  in- 
clined),  turned  his  attention  to  investigate  the  con- 
figuration and  phenomena  of  our  globe.  He  was 
influenced  to  undertake  these  studies  by  the  mar- 
velous discoveries  of  the  southern  coasts  of  Africa 
and  India  by  the  Portuguese,  and  of  America  by 
the  Spaniards.  Penetrating  mediaeval  mist  and  the 
deceptive  illusions  of  fancy,  Farissol  saw  things  as 
they  actually  are,  and  deeming  it  necessary  to  point 
them  out,  he  scoffed  at  ignorant  men  who,  in  their 
pseudo-learned  conceit,  considered  geography  of 
no  account.  He  had  to  show  conclusively  that 
the  Book  of  books,  the  holy  record  of  the  Torah, 
attached  importance  to  geographical  data,  in  doing 
which  he  indicated  a  new  point  of  view  for  the 
comprehension  of  the  Bible :  it  was  not  to  be  ex- 
plained by  allegories  and  metaphysical  or  Kabba- 
listic  reveries,  but  by  actual  facts  and  the  plain 
meaning  of  the  words. 

Farissol  had  access  to  the  court  of  the  duke  of 
Ferrara,  Hercules  d'Este  I,  one  of  the  best  princes 
of  Italy,  who  vied  with  the  Medici  in  the  promotion 
of  science.     The  duke  took  delight  in  his  conver* 


sation,  and  often  invited  him  to  discuss  religious 
questions  with  learned  monks.  It  seemed  as  if 
frequent  religious  disputations  and  intellectual  en- 
counters were  to  be  renewed  on  Italian  soil.  Faris- 
sol  displayed  philosophical  calm,  besides  caution, 
and  forbearance  for  the  sensibilities  of  his  oppo- 
nents, when  touching  upon  their  weak  points.  At 
the  request  of  the  duke  of  Ferrara,  Farissol  wrote 
down  in  Hebrew  the  substance  of  his  discourses 
with  the  monks,  and  reproduced  it  in  Italian,  to 
give  his  opponents  an  opportunity  for  refutation. 
But  his  polemical  and  apologetic  work  is  of  much 
less  value  than  his  geographical  writings,  which  he 
completed  in  his  old  age,  with  one  foot  in  the  grave. 
They  display  Farissol's  clear  mind,  common  sense 
and  extensive  learninor, 


The  Italian  Jews  had  at  least  the  right  of  free 
discussion  with  Christians.  But  as  soon  as  they 
crossed  the  Alps  into  Germany  they  breathed  raw 
air,  politically  as  well  as  atmospherically.  Few 
Sephardic  fugitives  visited  this  inhospitable  land. 
The  German  population  was  as  hostile  to  Jews  as 
the  Spanish.  True,  the  Germans  had  no  occa- 
sion to  envy  Jews  on  account  of  the  position 
and  influence  of  Jewish  magnates  at  royal  courts, 
but  they  grudged  them  even  their  miserable 
existence  in  the  Jews'  lanes  in  which  they  were 
penned  up.  They  had  been  banished  from  some 
German  districts,  from  Cologne,  Mayence  and 
Augsburg,  and  not  a  Jew  was  to  be  found  in  all 
Suabia.  From  other  parts  they  were  expelled  at 
about  the  same  time  as  from  Spain.  Emperor 
Frederick  III  to  his  last  hour  protected  those 
outlawed  by  all  the  world.  He  even  had  a  Jew- 
ish physician,  a  rarity  in  Germany,  the  learned 
Jacob  ben  Yechiel  Loans,  whom  he  greatly  favored, 
and  made  a  knight.  Frederick  is  said  on  his  death- 
bed to  have  strongly  recommended  the  Jews  to  his 
son,  enjoining  on  him   to  protect  them,  and  not  to 


listen  to  calumnious  accusations,  whose  falsity  he 
had  fathomed.  It  appears  that  Jacob  Loans  also 
enjoyed  the  favor  of  Emperor  Maximilian,  whose 
lot  it  was  to  rule  over  Germany  in  very  troublous 
times.  He  transferred  this  favor  to  Loans'  rela- 
tives, for  he  appointed  a  certain  Joseph  ben  Ger- 
shon  Loans,  of  Rosheim,  in  Alsace,  as  official  repre- 
sentative of  all  German  Jews  at  the  diet.  This 
Joseph  (Josselman,  Joselin)  was  distinguished  neither 
by  his  rabbinical  knowledge,  nor  his  position,  nor 
riches  ;  yet,  to  a  certain  extent,  he  was  the  official 
representative  of  German  Judaism.  His  most 
striking  qualities  were  untiring  activity,  when  it  was 
necessary  to  defend  his  unfortunate  co-religionists, 
his  love  of  truth,  and  fervent  clinging  to  his  faith 
and  people.  Born  1480,  died  1555,  for  half  a  cent- 
ury he  vigorously  protected  his  co-religionists  in 
Germany,  and  became  security  for  them  when  the 
ruling  powers  insisted  on  special  bail.  The  Jews, 
therefore,  praised  and  blessed  him  as  their  "Great 

But  the  very  fact  that  the  German  Jews  needed 
a  defender  proves  that  their  condition  was  not 
easy.  For  Emperor  Maximilian  was  not  a  man  of 
decided  character,  but  was  swayed  by  all  kinds  of 
influences  and  insinuations  ;  nor  did  he  always  fol- 
low his  father's  advice.  His  conduct  towards  the 
Jews,  therefore,  was  always  wavering ;  now  he 
granted,  or  at  least  promised,  them  his  protection ; 
now  he  offered  his  help,  if  not  for  their  sanguinary 
persecution,  at  least  for  their  expulsion  or  humilia- 
tion. At  times  he  lent  ear  to  the  lying  accusations 
that  the  Jews  reviled  the  host,  and  murdered  infants, 
falsehoods  diligently  promulgated  by  Dominican 
friars,  and,  since  the  alleged  martyrdom  of  young 
Simon  of  Trent,  readily  believed.  Hence,  during 
Maximilian's  reign,  Jews  were  not  only  expelled 
from  Germany  and  the  adjoining  states,  but  were 
hunted  down  and  tortured  ;  they  were  in  daily  ex- 


pectation  of  the  rack,  and  of  the  martyr's  death,  so 
that  a  special  confession  of  sins  was  drawn  up  for 
such  cases,  and  the  innocently  accused,  summoned 
to  apostatize,  sealed  their  confession  with  death,  and 
joyfully  sacrificed  themselves  for  the  One  God. 
When,  either  with  the  sanction  or  by  the  passive  per- 
mission of  the  emperor,  Jews  were  banished,  he  felt 
no  compunction  in  confiscating  their  property  and 
turning  it  into  money. 

The  emperor  did  not,  indeed,  expel  the  Nurem- 
berg community,  but  for  a  pecuniary  consideration 
gave  the  citizens  leave  to  do  so.  Yet  Christians 
presumed  to  reproach  Jews  with  making  money  un- 
justly, whereas  only  the  rich  did  so,  and  then  only  on  a 
small  scale.  Immediately  after  the  emperor's  acces- 
sion, the  townsmen  of  Nuremberg  appealed  to  him 
to  permit  the  expulsion  of  the  Jews  on  account  of 
"loose  conduct."  This  "loose  conduct"  was  explained 
in  the  indictment  to  be  the  reception  of  foreign 
co-religionists,  whereby  the  normal  number  of  Jews 
had  been  excessively  increased  in  the  town ;  the 
practice  of  inordinate  usury;  fraud  in  r